Wake school board to vote on community-schools plan

Posted February 26, 2010 4:57 p.m. EST
Updated February 27, 2010 1:59 p.m. EST

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County Board of Education will take a vote Tuesday on a resolution to base student assignment on community schools, chairman Ron Margiotta said Friday.

One of the agenda items set to be discussed during the board’s regularly-scheduled public meeting would establish a board directive for the establishment of community-based assignments.

The board meets first in the Committee of the Whole at noon at the Administration Building, 3600 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh. That meeting is followed by an open session at 3 p.m. will stream live, full video from both meetings for those who can not attend.

Currently, the school district assigns students so that no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Students are reassigned each year to maintain that level, as well as to fill new schools and relieve overcrowding.

At least five of the school board's nine members have indicated that they plan to end the practice, which can involve busing students to schools farther from their homes, in favor of neighborhood schools.

Board members who support the policy say changing the current plan in favor of neighborhood schools would disrupt diversity at schools.

Tuesday promises to be a busy day for the board. They are scheduled first to take up the issue of Superindent Del Burns’ contract in closed session at 10 a.m.

Burns told the board Feb. 16 that he would resign effective June 30. He criticized members of the new board majority – accusing them of "partisan political gamesmanship," and expressed concerns about some of the policy changes that the new board majority has made or wants to implement.

Board member John Tedesco questioned whether Burns could continue to be effective, saying, "If you can't do your job, what do I need you around for the next four months for?"

The board met about Burns for more than an hour Feb. 23 but did not change his status.

The other hot topic before the board, the conversion of year-round schools to a traditional calendar, is also on the agenda for Tuesday.

In December, the board voted to end the assumption that new schools would follow a year-round calendar and to consider converting some year-round schools to the traditional calendar. That move was followed by a poll of parents and a series of community meetings to gather feedback on school schedules.

The board will hear more research on the proposed calendar change during the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, and it could act on that information during the later meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting will feature a period of public comment beginning at 4 p.m., according to the published agenda.