Forum discusses cost of community-based schools

Posted October 16, 2010 9:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2010 11:33 a.m. EDT

— A schools coalition hosted a forum Saturday on the potential costs and consequences of shifting Wake County to community-based schools.

Great Schools in Wake County, a branch of WakeUP Wake County, held the forum, entitled "Costs and Consequences: What's at Stake for Wake," at North Carolina State University's McKimmon Center.

Presenters explored how a community-based student assignment policy could affect property values, student achievement and teacher quality.

"I really think this can be broken down in a lot of different levels. The fiscal level is very important, but I also think there's a moral level," said Amy Hawn-Nelson, who teaches at a high-poverty school in Charlotte that's slated to be closed.

"How you deal with those competing interests is ask, not only is this best for one kid or one neighborhood, but what's best for the overall community?" she added.

Speakers include Shaw University President Irma McLaurin and Jim Goodmon, president and CEO of Capital Broadcasting Company, parent company of WRAL-TV. Other presenters include former school board member Tom Oxholm, former Raleigh mayor Tom Bradshaw, Duke University public policy professor Helen Ladd and John Chesser, associate director of the UNC-Charlotte Urban Institute.

Five of the nine members of the Wake County Board of Education favor community-based student assignment over one that included socioeconomic diversity as a criterion. Controversy over exactly how to do that has dogged the majority, leading to a vote last week to scrap a plan to create school assignment zones.

School board member Debra Goldman said that she still supports community-based schools, but not the plan that had been proposed.

Supporters of community-based schools have said they believe the policy can be made in a way that maintains diversity in the school system.