Wake County Schools

Wake school board adopts new assignment plan

Posted December 11, 2012
Updated December 12, 2012

— The Wake County Board of Education voted 5-4 Tuesday evening to adopt a student assignment proposal for the 2013-14 school year, which affects less than 1 percent of students in North Carolina’s largest school district.

The party-line vote comes after weeks of public hearings to gather input from parents and refine the proposal, which will reassign about 1,500 children.

"I think the public will benefit greatly from this," said board member Susan Evans.

Vice chairwoman Christine Kushner agreed. 

"This is going to give families the stability they have been clamoring for," she said.

Both Kushner and Evans have called the 2012-13 "controlled-choice" plan unsustainable, in part due to problems with busing.

Some parents and school board members, however, said the board should have given the current plan more time before initiating another round of reassignments.

"I just do not see the necessity," said board member Deborah Prickett. "I don't hear the community clamoring for more assignment changes."

Prickett added that she doesn't believe the new plan will fix transportation issues.

"I will be monitoring how much busing takes place under the new plan," she said.

Board member Debra Goldman also said she was "diametrically opposed" to the changes. Goldman and Prickett were joined by John Tedesco and Chris Malone in voting against the new assignment plan.

Board Chairman Keith Sutton, Jim Martin and Kevin Hill, along with Evans and Kushner, voted for it.

During three recent public hearings, parents expressed a weariness of the district's frequent reassignments and called for stability. Despite debate, Wake school board approves new assignment plan Despite debate, Wake school board OKs new assignment plan

“There was a promise not to make big changes. That was thrown out," said parent Greg Stelmack.

"What happened to proximity or keeping our students together," parent Susan Uy told the board.

The 2013-14 student assignment plan is the third plan in as many years. It was developed by staff based on assignment maps the district used in the 2011-12 school year, and most of its focus is on filling three new schools in the Rolesville and Wake Forest areas.

The plan offers a base assignment tied to a student’s home address, but families can choose to keep students in their current schools if they are happy there. The plan also offers sibling priority and options for families who want traditional-calendar or year-round schools.

While school leaders say the new plan has less impact on students than past plans, they have pledged to do what they can to ease the transition for affected families. 

The plan takes effect Wednesday for all new families enrolling in the Wake County Public School System, along with families already in the system who will change addresses during the remainder of the current school year.

The school system will hold four public information sessions on the new assignment plan from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 at Salem Elementary School in Apex, Dec. 17 at Wildwood Forest Elementary School in Raleigh, Dec. 18 at East Garner Elementary School in Garner and Dec. 19 at Joyner Elementary School in Raleigh. Wake County Board of Education meeting Wake County Board of Education meeting

During Tuesday's meeting, the board also named Dr. Stephen Gainey as interim superintendent. Gainey has filled the role of acting superintendent since the September ouster of Superintendent Tony Tata.

Acting superintendent is a contract position. The title change to interim superintendent means Gainey will stay on for as long as it takes to find a permanent replacement for Tata.

Earlier Tuesday at a work session, the board discussed the process for filling the seat of Chris Malone, who won election to the General Assembly in November. Tuesday was Malone's last meeting.

"It's been three good, and I think largely productive years, tumultuous years," he said during the board's public meeting. "I decided when I came here that the thing that I would do, and try to do the best, was make sure that I listened, that I was responsive, and I think I did a fairly good job on that."

Malone added that, despite differences, he respected everyone on the board and staff and would miss them.

"I think we've done a lot of good for the county," he said. "It's going to be bittersweet."

Sutton praised Malone's service to the school system.

"You have served your growing community and constituency with persistence," Sutton said. "You have worked to establish policies to contribute to an efficient, effective school system. Most importantly, you have served as an advocate for students."

The board has dealt with deep division and controversy in recent years. During his opening remarks, the newly elected board chairman called on his colleagues to provide "exemplary leadership" and to work to rebuild trust in the community, especially as the board prepares to work with county commissioners on a potential $1 billion bond referendum for new school construction.

"Our Wake County school system has had a tumultuous past two years. In a relatively short span of time, we have gone through a tremendous amount of change," Sutton said. "It is now time to heal. It is time to restore the luster and the spirit of excellence that was once the expectation of anything associated with the Wake County Public School System."

138 Comments

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  • me2you Dec 13, 4:04 p.m.

    This board is so divided, when you have a majority of one, the others should just stay home.

  • Das G Dec 12, 2:19 p.m.

    If the republican members would have done what they were voted in to do, they would still be in power. That, and we'd all be in neighborhood schools. Instead, they caved to Barber and his cronies, and came up with the horrible choice plan. In the end, millions have been wasted, and we're right back to the failure of the system we had a few years ago.

  • samr Dec 12, 12:43 p.m.

    The term confederacy of dunces comes to mind when I think of our school board.

  • RaleighHunts Dec 12, 12:08 p.m.

    Super. I have a toddler and an infant, and they have just reassigned my address FROM an elementary school and middle school that are LITERALLY within walking distance (I can nearly SEE them from our house) to ones that are a few miles away, and in one case I'd be driving directly PAST the old assigned school and going a couple more miles to the new one. HOW does that make any sense? So much for going to school where you live. Neighborhoos/proximity FAIL!

  • dvrdwn Dec 12, 12:07 p.m.

    The reason people aren't going to vote for any school bond is not because they don't want to support their school(s), it's simply because the school board is a joke and has no clue on how to best spend the money. Look at their track record.... poor decision after poor decision. Nuff said.

    If we get rid of left-wing Liberals, socio-economic believers, race-based agendas, soccer-moms, etc. etc. and replace them with business professionals who know how to manage money and make good investments, then and only then will problems begin to get solved. Better yet, half of the board should consist of successful business leaders in the area, the other half students and teachers. The students and teachers are in the trenches and know what is needed/required and the business professionals will manage the funds appropriately. No politics, no BS.

  • markjb33 Dec 12, 12:06 p.m.

    The simpleist thing would be, but it will never happen:
    Students go to the nearest school, if that one is filled, the next nearest.
    Busing ONLY for those that live outside a 2 mile(as the crow flies) radius.
    All schools are outfitted the same.
    All PTA money is pooled and distributed equally!
    If a child is excelling at something, said child may elect to attend a magnet school. That election is on the child, and said parents provide transport to and from.
    Simple, but just won't happen

  • heisenberg Dec 12, 11:58 a.m.

    So apparent that the school board really does not have the best interest of the kids as their priority.

  • westernwake1 Dec 12, 11:47 a.m.

    "NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL STABILITY WILL COST MORE.

    If you want these things, you should support the next bond issue.

    They will cost more because new schools will open under capacity, and will be built in more expensive (higher density) places." - babbleon

    I support neighborhood schools and disagree that they will cost more. The reduction in bussing costs associated with bussing children acrosss town for diversity or providing 5 different choices should more than offset any additional costs.

    Wake County already opens new high schools with just 9th and 10th grade, new middle schools with just 6th grade, and elementary schools with K-2. These schools are signficantly under-capacity until they fill up. Neighborhood school assignment would not make the capacity issues related to new schools any worse.

  • Conservative Dec 12, 11:14 a.m.

    I have suggested this several times before - NON COOPERATION - is a great tool. All parents should take their children to the neighborhood schools on the first day of school and should not budge come what may. Yes, they will call the police. Stay there peacefully so things do not take a 90-degree turn, insist that your child will go to that school. If it does not work on Day 1, come back on Day 2 and keep at it. This is the only way you can effect a change. Otherwise, keep venting on this forum but nothing is going to happen!

    This does not affect me - my youngest graduates from High School in June 2013.

    All the best.

  • offthegrid7165 Dec 12, 11:03 a.m.

    All you wake county bobos got exactly what you deserved... Unfortunately... your children have to suffer the poor decisions of all involved... The whole bus for socioeconomic diversity issue (i.e. MONEY) is a scam by these so called officials who run the schools.... What a boat load of bull butter.... Anyway, all of you.. sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor...

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