Wake County Schools

Student assignment plan will move forward on schedule

Posted January 10, 2012 7:56 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2012 5:22 a.m. EST

— Despite lingering concerns, the Wake County student assignment plan will move forward on schedule without any changes.

Board of Education members spent several hours at a work session Tuesday talking with school system staff about a number of concerns brought up last week about the new choice-model plan. 

The plan gives parents more input into where their children go to school and aims at providing stability for students who are sometimes reassigned under the current plan for diversity purposes.

"The decision has been made, the question of delay is off the table," said board member John Tedesco during  the work session. 

"Whether I agree with that is almost immaterial, the decision was made to go forward," said board member Jim Martin, who had  raised several concerns.

Martin and other board members, as well as community groups, are worried about whether students from traditionally low-performing schools would have access to schools that are high-performing. Other issues with the plan include cost concerns and the track in which students move from elementary to middle to high schools.

The board acknowledged that the plan is not perfect but agreed to continue with it as long as there is constant monitoring and evaluation and adjustments, if they are needed.

"We need to respect the decisions parents are making today. We can't go in and say, 'You've been given an assignment slip, now I'm going to take it away,' and say, 'No, you have to have something else,'" Martin said. "That's irresponsible Parents have been jerked around by the system long enough. We can't do that."

"I think we're going to see some schools that have some challenges," Tedesco added. "Some of those schools need our resources, and we need to put our money where our mouth is and make sure we have the right resources in place – whether it's tutoring support or reading specialists or special education services for those children. We have to help all of our children succeed."

During Tuesday evening's school board meeting, charter middle school students and parents expressed concern about their high school options under the new plan. Many said they would be locked out of their closest school because of seats filled by others grandfathered in under current feeder patterns.

"I will get pushed out of the school that every other ninth-grader on my block will attend next year,” Exploris Middle School eighth-grader Ellie Buckner said.

Superintendent Tony Tata said current charter school students will get the same proximity priority as others, and that they expect many students will choose different options under the new plan.

"There will be capacity that is not available today," Tata said.

Parents are set to begin Jan. 17 choosing and ranking which schools they want their children to attend for the 2012-13 school year.

Their choices are based on their address and include at least five elementary, two middle and two high schools. Those schools are a combination of traditional-calendar, year-round calendar, magnet and other specialty options.

The school system will begin notifying parents in mid-March of their assignments.