Wake County Schools

Parents learn about Wake schools assignment proposal

Posted August 31, 2011 8:21 a.m. EDT
Updated August 31, 2011 10:42 p.m. EDT

— Wake County parents got the chance Wednesday evening to learn more about a student assignment plan that would give them a say in which school their child goes to but leaves some concerns about transportation and capacity.

About 33 people attended a meeting at Middle Creek High in Cary held by Superintendent Tony Tata and members of his student assignment task force.

Tata and the group are speaking to the public over the next three weeks about the choice-based student assignment plan he proposed in May. The choice-based plan replaces a decade-old busing for diversity program.

School board members seemed satisfied with the direction of the plan after a presentation by Tata earlier in August.

"We are headed in the right direction now," school board vice-chair John Tedesco said. "You saw the survey. Parents wanted proximity. That's everything we've been fighting for for two years."

The new plan would let parents rank their choices among a variety of schools based on their address. Tata said an online test run of the plan showed that most parents are likely to choose the school nearest their home.

Recent updates to the proposal include adding proposed feeder patterns and broadening the options for students whose closest school is a magnet school.

School board members have expressed some concern about overcrowding popular schools and the cost of the proposal.

Tedesco said earlier in August that he is especially worried about Garner High School, which has a high number of mobile classrooms to accommodate its burgeoning enrollment.

"An excess of 2,000 additional students in a school built for 1,600? That's not right," Tedesco said.

The cost of transportation is also a question mark, depending on which schools parents want to send their children to.

"It may go up. It may go down," Tata said. "We've got good data that should get us in the ballpark of knowing exactly what that number is."

Task force member Susan Pullium said she hoped Wednesday's low turnout was because parents didn’t have many questions.

“We’re hoping that’s because they understand what’s been presented to the board at this point,” Pullium said. “Or it could be that they just didn’t know to get out here today.”

School board member Anne McLaurin thinks turnout will be higher at the other five meetings planned. 

Those meetings are scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. on:

  • Sept. 1 at Wakefield High, 2200 Wakefield Pines Dr. in Raleigh
  • Sept. 7 at Apex High, 1501 Laura Duncan Road in Apex
  • Sept. 8 at Southeast Raleigh High, 2600 Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh
  • Sept. 13 at Broughton High, 723 St. Mary's St. in Raleigh
  • Sept. 15 at East Wake High, 5101 Rolesville Road in Wendell

Parent Jan Powell preferred the diversity-based plan but said Wednesday she is encouraged by the Tata’s effort.

“He is a good listener, an active listener, so I do have some confidence that they’ve hopefully blended the two plans to satisfy most of us,” Powell said.

Tata hopes to bring a final plan for student assignment to the school board in October.