Wake County Schools

Hill wants reassignment work session with new board

Posted November 21, 2011 5:50 p.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2011 8:21 p.m. EST

— A re-elected Wake County school board member wants to review the school system's new student assignment plan when three new board members are sworn into office next month.

Kevin Hill, who voted against the plan last month because of some concerns he had, said Monday that he would like to schedule a work session for Dec. 7 – the day after the first meeting of the Democratic-backed majority – or as soon as possible.

"I can’t speak for new board members, but the meeting is for the purpose of talking about the assignment plan and budget questions associated with the assignment plan," Hill said Monday.

"Many questions and concerns are coming from parents as details are better understood, so I would like to present staff with some of those concerns before Dec. 7 and then have an old-fashioned work session to talk about them," he continued.

The plan for the new policy, implemented by the current Republican-controlled board and takes effect next school year, essentially gives parents a list of schools that their children are eligible to attend based on where they live and allows parents to rank their preferences. The process replaces a decade-old practice of busing students to keep schools socio-economically diverse.

"We've got a lot of time-sensitive issues to look at," Hill said. "The superintendent, himself, said there are some areas that need some work on the plan, that it's a work in progress."

"Let's connect the dots about what some of these suggestions are going to cost in terms of budget," he continued. "Is it sustainable?"

Superintendent Tony Tata said he and his staff will be prepared anytime the board decides to meet to discuss the plan.

A Democrat, Hill has said that he believes the new plan is a good one, but among his concerns is what he believes to be a lack of seating in high-performing schools that's supposed to be guaranteed for students enrolled in traditionally low-performing schools.

His vote against the plan was a central issue in his re-election bid.

Republican supporters of the new assignment policy, including Board Vice-Chairman John Tedesco, said they worried that if Hill were re-elected and the board majority shifted to Democrats, he would move to dismantle the policy.

Hill has maintained that he has no intention to do so, saying he likes the new plan but feels it needs to be tweaked.

Tedesco said Monday that he's OK with a special work session if it is just to help new members better understand the new plan.

"If it is to change the new choice plan or to alter the way families have options into their school – this late in the game, I would be very concerned."

Hill's work session request is reminiscent to two years ago when the four Republican board members, including Tedesco, were sworn into office and along with board Chairman Ron Margiotta, also a Republican, made major policy changes on the same day.

Tedesco admitted Monday that wasn't the best way to conduct business.

"As a leader, I think we should all grow with hindsight. I've learned, myself, if I could do some things differently, maybe the first meeting we had two years ago is not the model to follow," he said. "I don't think doing all those things on the second day either would be the model to follow."

Hill, however, said he doesn't plan on making any sweeping changes.

"We (he and the new school board members) really have not been meeting or really discussing it other than we really felt we do need a meeting early on," he said.