Wake County Schools

Sutton to lead Wake school board through reassignment, schools bond

Posted December 4, 2012
Updated December 5, 2012

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— The Wake County Board of Education on Tuesday elected Keith Sutton as its new chairman amid ongoing discussions about a temporary student assignment plan for next school year.

Christine Kushner was elected vice chairwoman, and the board also voted to keep Tharrington Smith in Raleigh as its attorney.

Sutton, who won with a 5-4 majority over Deborah Prickett, replaces Kevin Hill, who decided not to run for another one-year term. Wake County Public School System Wake County schools coverage

In addition to ironing out an assignment plan, the board is looking forward to discussions about a bond referendum to pay for 25 schools over the next 10 years, which will require the approval of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Joe Bryan, who was elected as Board of Commissioners chairman on Monday, said he hopes to have the bond on next fall’s ballot but has some questions for the school board.

"Is the assignment plan settled? What is it?" he said Monday. "What is your schedule for getting a new superintendent?"

Former Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Coble said bond talks were off the table after the school board scrapped its current “controlled-choice” student assignment plan and fired Superintendent Tony Tata earlier this year.

School board member Debra Goldman said Monday that she also has reservations about moving forward with the bond issue after recent actions by the board majority. Goldman, along with three other Republican-backed board members, voted against revising the student assignment plan and ousting Tata.

"The bottom line is: If the people of Wake County don't have faith in the fiscal responsibility of the school board, there is no way they are going to support a bond," Goldman said. “(This) board voted on a narrow 5-4 margin to fire our superintendent without cause and cost the taxpayers almost $300,000.”

Sutton, however, is optimistic. Wake Wednesday meeting is final chance to discuss new Wake assignment plan

"As long as there are willing bodies and willing leadership, we can make it happen," he said Tuesday.

Disagreement and division have often marked board interactions – most recently at a public hearing last week on the student assignment proposal. Prickett and fellow board member Susan Evans clashed over whether it was appropriate to discuss the board's decision to change the assignment plan less than a year after it was implemented. Prickett opposed the change, while Evans supported it.

At the hearing, Prickett asked parents to show their support for the current plan by raising their hands. Evans then took the microphone from her.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Prickett said Evans should resign. Keith Sutton Wake school board elects Sutton as chairman

"Jerking a portable microphone from my hand while leaning into my personal space falls in the confines of assault," she said.

In October, Bryan said the school board needs to work together and rebuild trust if it wants to move forward.

The third and final public hearing on the staff's student assignment proposal for 2013-14 will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rolesville Middle School. In response to parents' concerns at the first two hearings, the school board has tweaked some aspects of the plan.

121 Comments

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  • heisenberg Dec 11, 11:50 a.m.

    Vote NO on school bonds.

  • westernwake1 Dec 6, 5:11 p.m.

    "Phew! Now, we can get back to common sense. With Margiotta/Tedesco running rampant with attitude issues, this WCPSS parent (16 years) is hopeful to get back to basics and ease. I have only 2 and 1/2 more years and I'll be done with WCPSS. Thanks to Margiotta/Tedesco: I've had it." - lindaburton2004

    The rest of us 'Had It' in Wake County many years before Margiotta/Tedesco showed up. Under the old Democratic board our chidren's schools were changed EVERY SINGLE YEAR to support a diversity policy that provided no educational value.

    The 'Choice Plan' was a compromise to appease Rev Barber and the Democrats, and is not the Neighborhood School Assignment Plan wanted by the Republicans.

    Over 95% of the school systems in the U.S. successfully use neighborhood school assignment plans - including all of the school districts in the U.S. that are larger than Wake or growing faster than Wake. It is time that Wake County followed their lead.

  • IPayYouPay Dec 6, 10:45 a.m.

    Phew! Now, we can get back to common sense. With Margiotta/Tedesco running rampant with attitude issues, this WCPSS parent (16 years) is hopeful to get back to basics and ease. I have only 2 and 1/2 more years and I'll be done with WCPSS. Thanks to Margiotta/Tedesco: I've had it.

  • msnfnp Dec 6, 10:12 a.m.

    Does there even need to be bonds to raise funds? I thought there is a $32 million dollar surplus in Wake County!

  • injameswetrust2003 Dec 5, 6:11 p.m.

    "They should all be fired..." - mkg1047

    I agree with that. Hill should have resigned when he decided he didn't want to be the chairperson. He couldn't - and can't- handle the heat and his failed leadership lead to the dismissal of Tata. How about this- as part of the school bond the members all agree to resign.

  • mkg1047 Dec 5, 5:57 p.m.

    This school board is acting like a bunch of 5th graders. They should all be fired and let the 5th graders run the board. I can promise you they would accomplish a heck of a lot more than this board. Not voting for any bond until Wake County cleans up this mess.

  • ConservativeVoter Dec 5, 4:57 p.m.

    Seeing that Sutton threatened another school board member previously, he should resign along with Evans who reached over and took the microphone away from another school board member.

  • federalsales2 Dec 5, 4:15 p.m.

    I speak for everyone that does not live in Wake county. We are so tried of having to hear about Wake county schools..What a joke the system is,, Man I am so glad my kids are not in school anymore...

  • MARX Dec 5, 3:52 p.m.

    "The ONE thing the state legislature should do is force Wake County, as long as it has county-wide school assignment, to allow Wake voters to hold ALL school board members accountable at the ballot box." This was proposed in the legislature and sent to a committee where it was tabled. I do think we should keep this idea going for a vote, so stay on your respective legislative member.

  • cjw6105 Dec 5, 3:34 p.m.

    The ONE thing the state legislature should do is force Wake County, as long as it has county-wide school assignment, to allow Wake voters to hold ALL school board members accountable at the ballot box.

    The Wake School System's administrators, a liberal group by anyone's definition, doesn't want its members to answer to all Wake voters. It takes away their power to control.

    Control is what the Wake School System is all about.

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