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School board approves moving 6,464 students

Posted February 5, 2008
Updated April 29, 2008

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— Thousands of Wake County elementary school students will change schools this year. The school board voted Tuesday night in favor of a controversial reassignment plan despite an outcry from parents.

"I expect that each of you, unbiased, have the best interest of all the children in the district,” parent Tom Luzzi said.

Reassignment is necessary to balance diversity and keep some schools from falling behind, Wake County Schools Superintendent Del Burns has said.

Administrators said they are trying to ensure "healthy schools" in which fewer than 40 percent of students are from low-income families. Officials determine a school's poverty rate based on the percentage of students qualified to receive free or reduced-price lunches.

“Whole groups of children have to be moved, just to get to that small handful of children needed,” parent Jennifer Etkin said in criticizing the reassignment plan.

Some parents told the school board Tuesday night that moving 6,464 students partially for diversity is not fair and that the school district is losing trust.

"Its reassignment decisions are for the children of poverty, and if we question it, it says we are elitist, classist or racist,” parent Jody Barish said.

Parents against reassignment want the school district to prove that balancing economic mixes produces more successful schools. Administrators argue that a study to prove that is impossible.

"To do that in a scientific lab kind of way, we'd have to be willing to sacrifice one group of youngsters to see what the effect was,” said David Holdzkom, Wake County assistant superintendent for evaluation and research.

Administrators also judge a school's diversity on its end-of-grade exam scores and the number of students in special education or with limited proficiency in English.

About 20 percent of the students changing schools this fall are being moved to balance diversity. Students are also being reassigned to ease crowding at existing schools and to fill seats at three new schools – Laurel Park, Mills Park and Sycamore Creek.

Supporters argue that reassignment is a must for a system growing as fast as Wake County. It became the largest in the state in 2007 and expects to grow by 6,000 to approximately 140,000 students next year.

The school board agreed to extend a grandfather option for rising fourth- and fifth-graders for both existing and new schools.

The school board also talked about year-round versus traditional-calendar schools. School board member Ron Margiotta wanted to convert two of the new elementary schools from year-round back to a traditional calendar. The school board voted against that.


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  • fletchermse Feb 7, 2008

    "To do that in a scientific lab kind of way, we'd have to be willing to sacrifice one group of youngsters to see what the effect was,”"

    I can't believe he said that. Isn't busing students around without any supporting information, in hope of random success, sacrificing them? If not, it's at least a risky gamble that has yet to prove itself).

    Mr. Holdzkom will definitely be receiving a letter regarding this.

  • areadriver Feb 6, 2008

    I can't believe at a time when the economy is in the toilet and oil prices are at record levels that they want to bus kids around the district. This is rediculous. Let the kids go to schools near their homes and families. Don't make a little kid sit on a bus longer than need be. Its not fair to the kids.

  • doobedobedoodoo Feb 6, 2008

    I LOVE diversity! YEA For DIVERSITY!!

    WHEEEE!!!!!!! Our tax dollars (for those who pay'em') at work!!

  • Adelinthe Feb 6, 2008

    Yeah, let's bundle them all in with strangers every year, take away their roots and sense of community security.

    Praying for every child in Wake County, cause the WCPSS cares more about shifts in numbers than it does about them.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • poohperson2000 Feb 6, 2008

    I have a child that struggles to be "average" at school and I think he needs all the help he gets. Many people's comments on here make me feel the impression is kids like him hold their "smart kids" back. Some of those "smart kids" could learn a thing or two by helping kids like mine. Encourage your kids to help others if they can. They will learn so much more than a math book or advanced reading can teach them. They could also observe how hard some work to acheive things that come easily to them. We could seperate the kids into skill levels, if PARENTS taught their kids these things. But since these values are non existent, kids like my son would get teased and picked on if they split things into skill levels.

  • findoutthefacts Feb 6, 2008

    "Diversity is obviously a core value of to many school board's in the country http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/education/15integrate.html"

    Exactly - my point again! The Boards can't focus on the education quality. They have to spend all their time satisfying special interest groups who will call the NAACP, ACLU, and whatever else if they don't get their way. The BOE's have to tiptoe around everyone.

  • findoutthefacts Feb 6, 2008

    I like the examples of high school courses you gave! What do they do for elementary school kids who don't have levels of math to choose from and are all put in a class together?

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Feb 6, 2008

    People are really just complainers because when the option was year round, probably in the same neighborhood, so schools could accommodate more kids at a time the complaint was that kids in the same family would be on different schedules.

    Now the option is kids on the same schedule, just possibly further away and you people still complain.

    Diversity is obviously a core value of to many school board's in the country http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/education/15integrate.html

    So you have to options, find a more efficient solution that suits all needs or put you kid in private school...

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Feb 6, 2008

    That's why schools have for example tech math I (Remedial math) all the way up to college algebra. No one is being "dumbed down" and as parent if you feel like your cild is than you need be proactive about it, not just complain.

  • findoutthefacts Feb 6, 2008

    "If i'm a genius and my twin brother is a moron should we go to different schools?"

    If they are dumbing down your education or are asking your brother to do things that he can't mentally do.....YES YOU ARE CORRECT, you should be at different schools!

    This is exactly what I am talking about. The BOE has to deal with issues like making sure kids get to go to school with their siblings and not issues like are they both getting the education that they can mentally comprehend and benefits them most!