Education

Security costs for Wake school board meetings increasing

Posted July 20, 2010 9:13 a.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2010 9:04 p.m. EDT

— Spending on security for Wake County Board of Education meetings has skyrocketed in the past eight months, according school system data obtained by the Wake Community Network.

The conservative group issued a news release Tuesday showing numbers given to them by Wake County School Public School System school system spokesman Michael Evans.

The data shows that between July and November of last year, the school system spent $451.58 on security at school board meetings.

Between December 2009, when the new school board majority was seated, and April of this year, the system spent $14,719.39 to hire private security officers and off-duty police officers for school board meetings.

In November, four newly elected members created the 5-4 majority on the school board working to change the decade-old policy that assigns students, in part, to achieve socio-economic diversity at schools.

The debate over the board majority's community-based assignment policy has drawn sometimes loud criticism at crowded meetings. On June 15, four people, including state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, were arrested on second-degree trespassing charges during what they termed a "non-violent protest."

Opponents of the change say moving away from the policy of busing students will segregate schools and create pockets of poverty.

Supporters of the school board's community-based assignment model favor placing students in schools closer to where they live, saying it would give parents more choices and allow more parents to be involved in their children's education.

The school system currently bases student assignment on the number of students in a school who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, which are federally subsidized and depend on family income. The goal is to keep that percentage below 40 percent.