Raleigh, N.C. — The future of the Wake County Public School System is in the hands of voters Oct. 6.
Four of the nine seats on the school board are up for grabs, and that could mean change in some school system policies.
"This is a big election," said Ann Delinger, president of the nonprofit community group Wake Education Partnership.
Several community groups, such as WakeCARES and the Wake Schools Community Alliance, said they are endorsing candidates who say they are willing to change some of the school system's policies, including its diversity and student reassignment policies.
Wake often buses students to create economic diversity in schools. The school system reassigns students every year to help deal with growth.
"While balancing the socioeconomic levels in schools may make the individual school look better, the results have not proven that this is effective for students," said WakeCARES co-founder Kathleen Brennan.
This is an off-election year, so people might not be as inclined to vote. So far, about 360 people have voted early. With four seats up for grabs, many say this year's election is as important as any in recent history.
"We just want to endorse candidates that have the entire system in mind," said Jennifer Lanane, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators Wake County chapter, which represents about 5,000 school system employees.
The teachers' association supports candidates in favor of the current busing policy and who are focused on other issues, such as retaining quality teachers and maintaining state-of-the-art facilities.
There are 12 candidates running for four seats on the 9-member school board.
WakeCares and WSCA have endorsed Chris Malone for the District 1 seat, John Tedesco for District 2, Deborah Pickett for District 7 and Debra Goldman for District 9.
The NCAE has endorsed Rita Rakestraw for District 1, incumbent Horace Tart for District 2, Karen Simon for District 7 and Lois Nixon for District 9.
District 1 board member Lori Millberg, District 7 member Patti Head and District 9 member Eleanor Goettee have chosen not to run for re-election this fall. Horace Tart, who represents Wake County's District 2, is the only incumbent school board member on the ballot this fall.