Wake County Schools

Tata reassures real estate agents about assignment plan

Posted December 16, 2011 5:37 p.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2011 6:59 p.m. EST

— Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata met Friday with local real estate agents to answer questions they have about how the district will soon be assigning students.

The new student assignment plan, which will go into effect in the fall, gives parents more input into what schools their children attend.

But the school board's move to replace the longstanding policy of busing students for purposes of diversity has drawn protests from the NAACP, a number of community groups and residents who believe the change will lead to re-segregation, high teacher turnover and a lower quality of education for low-income students.

Real estate agents and local business owners say they are worried about what that perception might mean for people and companies relocating to Wake County.

"Nobody knows. This is kind of brand new, and we are very anxious to see what's going to happen in this next year," said Stacy Anfindsen, president-elect of the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors, which invited Tata to speak Friday.

"If it doesn't work, we'll know right away," Anfindsen said. "I think if it does work – and I am hopeful that it will work – it will be a smooth transition."

Gwendolyn Smith said she attended the meeting because she wanted to be able to answer the many client questions she gets.

"That is a big concern for a lot of parents," Smith said. "They want to know what's going to happen with the school system, and now with more information, I can help them."

Tata told the group that, after talking with education consultant and choice model expert Michael Alves, he believes the new plan will help the local market.

"What he sees is that a choice plan actually helps home values, because all schools work hard to be high-demand schools," Tata said.

Tata says the new plan will bring more stability, eliminating forced reassignment that parents complained about for years.

"I like what I heard today," Smith said. "Initially, I wasn't sure about it, because I didn't have enough information. But (with) what I heard today, I think I can transfer over to my clients to help them make the right choice."

School selection begins in mid-January, and the school system is urging anyone with rising kindergarteners to register their children, so they will be ready to enter the choice process.