Wake County Schools

Wake leader: School board needs to rebuild trust

Posted October 3, 2012

Wake County Public School System

— A Wake County commissioner says he believes the politically divided school board has to rebuild the trust of both county leaders and the public if it wants to succeed in getting voters to pass a school construction bond.

"We know we need to build schools," Commissioner Joe Bryan said Wednesday. "Would (a bond) be successful in this type of environment? The comments we're getting is don't give this school board money, any money at all."

Division on the nominally nonpartisan board of the state's largest school system is nothing new, but a controversial move last week to fire Superintendent Tony Tata from his post after nearly two years of a four-year contract, has sparked outrage from community members who believe politics were a driving force behind the move.

The Democratic-controlled board has faced sharp criticism since Tata's dismissal from Republican board members, community leaders and parents for dismissing Tata and for what they see as a wasteful misuse of taxpayers' money to pay him more than $250,000 in severance and for what it will cost to hire a new superintendent.

"I think the board made a decision that includes a fiscal irresponsibility on spending money that did not need to be spent when you had a superior superintendent that had a great life experiences and was innovative and creative and brought our community together," Bryan said.

Paul Coble, who chairs the Board of Commissioners, has already tabled any possibility of discussing a bond with the school board until it can prove that it can come together on three outstanding initiatives that Tata had been spearheading, including the student assignment plan and at least a seven-year commitment to opening a technical high school south of downtown Raleigh.

Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan Wake leader: School board needs to rebuild trust

"They're the ones that dug this hole," Bryan said of the school board members. "They're the ones who have got to dig themselves out of that hole and establish that trust. It needs to be at their board table on their ability to work together and show that to the community that they can work together."

The school system is the fastest-growing in the state, with 3,000 to 5,000 new students coming into the school system every year. One in three schools is overcrowded, and the school system estimates the need for about three new schools every year.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says all Wake County leaders and residents are stakeholders in the success of the school system.

"Everyone really understands that the education of our students is fundamental to what makes us great," she said. "We have consistently been ranked as one of the best school systems in the country and that needs to be the basis of all our decisions."

School board members – both Democrats and Republicans – say they are committed to moving the school system forward.

Democratic members said Tuesday that removing Tata from the superintendent post had nothing to do with politics.

School board Chairman Kevin Hill cited concerns about student achievement, fiscal responsibility and trust under Tata's leadership and said the board was spending too much time "putting out fires" stemming most recently from the implementation of a student assignment plan and busing issues.

89 Comments

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  • torchhappysean Oct 5, 3:04 p.m.

    I feel that there is no way the present board will ever regain the trust of the public.. Their antics have gone way too far for that now. The best thing to do for everyone concerned is for the board to totally dissolve itself and let a new one be elected....

  • westernwake1 Oct 4, 6:13 p.m.

    "westernwake1....In one school where I have deep knowledge, gains had nothing to do with the Superintendent..." - tired2

    If you are going to make the case that the gains hasd nothing to do with the Superintendent then the academic gains must be due to another factor.

    This may be a good time to note that the Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) had its largest academic gains in decades (similar to Wake) when they ended their bussing for diversity policy and went to a neighborhood school assignment policy. In this context the gains in Wake must be due to the intelligence of the Republican board members in eliminating a failed diversity bussing policy that held back student achievement. Maybe all the parents in Wake should write the Republican board members a thank you note for helping our children excel.

  • Screw WrAl Oct 4, 4:01 p.m.

    rebuild trust? not going to happen as long as this majority is on the board. not a chance.

  • 4Strikes Oct 4, 3:57 p.m.

    There will never be trust in this board again. The only thing that parents can do is to wait for the next election cycle to start removing some of these clowns from the school board.

  • yoowho Oct 4, 3:53 p.m.

    Tata was perfectly qualified, a leader. Now a good example of "unqualified" is a community organizer trying to play president.

  • superman Oct 4, 1:40 p.m.

    atc2 You must be in the bathroom looking at a mirror.

  • superman Oct 4, 1:39 p.m.

    Honesty first Thank you very much for your post. It is an intelligent comment regarding the situation. We all know that an x-general is not likely to take orders. By any stretch of an imigination he was not qualifed and to pay him $250 was a joke.

  • superman Oct 4, 1:31 p.m.

    schooldoctor-- excuse me but I was using suggested time line from the Board of Education. Their time line probably includes a study of approximate area where the school is needed, the capacity needed, the grade level and then searching and buying the land. It is probably difficult to find 10-15 acres or whatever is needed in the area where they want to build. It could take months to find the a suitable plot of land and negotiate the price. The last that I remember was the County Commissioners also had to approve the purchase of the land so it could take months on just negotiating the land. For the most part I just wanted to alert parents that the building and construction of a school is not a fast fix. There are also building permits to get, roads that may have to be widened a whole list of related events. Took you 16 months but after you finsihed construction they still have to move in equipment etc. Did you install equipment in the cafeteria? Students dont have classes in empty

  • tired2 Oct 4, 1:06 p.m.

    westernwake1....In one school where I have deep knowledge, gains had nothing to do with the Superintendent. I am not saying direction from the top had no impact....but for someone who had NO lifelong background in day-to-day education and theories/practice, it would be near impossible for him to have had the effect the growth suggests. Try teaching for year or two - you will understand. You do not hear me supporting the board decision because in that, I like all of you, do not have all the facts.

  • driverkid3 Oct 4, 12:24 p.m.

    superman::::Same thing could and would have happened under Dr. Burns or Rev Barber.

    Thank you so much for giving me a good laugh today. Rev. Barber is capable of stirring something that smeels foul ONLY! He has one and only one agenda, that is to stir up problems everywhere he goes.

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