Cary, N.C. — In a move that seemed to satisfy both sides of the bitterly divided Wake County Board of Education, school system leaders are developing a student assignment proposal that utilizes assignment maps from last school year.
Under a June directive from the board, school system staff developed a student assignment plan for the 2013-14 school year that combines elements of the current controlled choice plan and a neighborhood model that links each Wake County address with a base elementary, middle and high school.
But some parents expressed disappointment with the maps drawn up by district leaders that showed which neighborhoods would be assigned to which base schools.
"We are one neighborhood, but they split us into six," said Karen Carter, who lives in Cary's Westpark neighborhood. "It just puts into question – are we even a neighborhood?"
Board members agreed at a work session Thursday that families should be able to keep their 2011-12 base assignments, with some minor adjustments for capacity. About 94 percent of parents polled during the development of the choice-based plan said they were pleased with their current assignments.
So, keeping those assignments intact promotes stability, said board member Susan Evans.
Board member Deborah Prickett agreed.
"I don't see (implementing) a big overhaul to get people upset all over again," she said.
Board Chairman Kevin Hill said stepping back from a radical student assignment re-write is the best thing to do.
"Let's slow this thing down a little bit and let's take a good look at it," he said, adding that the board reached some consensus during Thursday's meeting.
Tensions have been high among board members after the Democratic majority voted last week to fire Tony Tata as superintendent. Hill said problems with the implementation of the choice student assignment plan and a busing debacle that got the traditional calendar school year off to a "disastrous" start were among the reasons cited for Tata's dismissal.
Board member Debra Goldman, who has been outspoken in her support for Tata and her outrage at his termination, said she saw Thursday's meeting as a positive step toward board cohesion.
"There has been a big wake-up call, and the board is moving forward," she said.