Wake County Schools

Parents question Wake assignment plan's feeder patterns

Posted January 4, 2012 5:29 p.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2012 5:27 a.m. EST

— Wake County schools leaders say they have received mostly positive feedback on the new student assignment plan, which is set to take effect in two weeks, but a group of parents is asking the board to take another look at the feeder patterns before moving forward with the new plan.

Wake County parents will be asked to start ranking their school choices under the new plan on Jan. 17. At Tuesday's work session, some board members questioned whether that date should be pushed back, based in part on concerns in a handful of neighborhoods about feeder patterns.

When a parent chooses an elementary school, it is paired with a guaranteed middle and high school. Some parents, like Maria Reier, don't like their pairings.

"Our neighborhood is in a terrible position in this plan," she said.

Reier and a group of Carpenter Elementary School parents took those concerns to board members. They're upset that an effort to feed one year-round school to another puts their guaranteed choice farther from home.

"We want a closer middle school as a feeder, because just having a closer one on our choice list is not any guarantee at all," Reier said.

Wake schools staff say they are receiving good feedback on the new plan from a variety of channels, including from a test run of the plan last year. Reier says she believes the feedback would have been different if the feeder patters were clearly laid out in the test drive.

“If I could go back now, I would answer differently,” she said. "They need to do a final plan test drive where feeder patterns are in place."

Reier's is one of several neighborhoods voicing similar concerns. That's why some newly elected board members suggested delaying the first selection process to spend more time working on feeder patterns and other aspects.

"I do not believe that what we see is a sustainable long-term, healthy plan for Wake County," said school board member Jim Martin.

Superintendent Tony Tata says he feels confident that they'll have a good plan moving forward. He says he and his staff are looking into the concerns, but he believes board leadership is guiding members in the right direction.

Board member Chris Malone says it's important to monitor and make adjustments later, but not to push major changes now.

"I am really concerned about the instability of the system and where people are going to be going to school," he said.

Reier says she doesn't think they should completely scrap the plan, but she does think major changes are needed.

The Cary parent group is scheduled to meet with school board member Debra Goldman and staff on Thursday to discuss their concerns. The assignment task force plans to answer additional questions for board members before next Tuesday's meeting.