Wake County Schools

First round of school choice wraps Friday

Posted February 23, 2012 10:51 a.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2012 5:59 p.m. EST

— Parents of children in Wake County public schools have until 10 p.m. Friday to choose the schools they want in the online selection process for the district's new student assignment plan.

Under the new assignment model, parents rank a list of schools, based on their home address. Once a student is assigned to a school, he or she is guaranteed a seat in that school's feeder pattern as long as he or she is enrolled in the school system.

With just hours left, more than 8,700 out of a projected 12,000 kindergartners had been pre-enrolled for school next year, and 18,859 students at all grade levels had made a school choice online. 

Parents rank their choices before school staff place students. They will find out if they get their first choice by March 16, then second choice-selection period will begin for families who don't participate in the first round. Assignments based on those choices will be made by mid-April.

Each year, parents can request placement for a different school if they want.

Carrie Dacunto has three children in the Wake County school system. She wants to use the new plan to move her oldest. 

"I liked the idea we could get him in another high school," Dacunto said. 

Her two other children in elementary and middle school will stay where they are. 

The school system estimates that parents of about 6 percent of current students will opt to make a change to their plan. Parents of almost 9,000 current students opted for a change. 

Those who don't participate in the choice process stay in their current school and feeder pattern.

Parents of students who are new or returning to the school system, rising kindergartners and parents who want their children to switch schools must go through the selection process. About 70,000 of rising kindergartners have made a choice about which school to attend, officials said. 

Current students received their preliminary assignments in November, and parents wanting to change that assignment can go online and rank their school choices but should only pick schools if they are willing to leave their current assignment.

Parents have priority to schools closest to their home as well as schools where children already have a sibling attending.

Students in schools considered low-performing will also have an additional choice to attend a school that's considered high-performing, based on test scores and qualified teachers.

School board member Jim Martin has opposed the choice assignment plan, but agrees that the old plan did not do enough to offer stability.

"Some areas were reassigned way to frequently," Martin said. 

Martin said the corrections could have been made to the old plan without throwing it all out. "It did not need to be completely overhauled," he said.

Board member John Tedesco, who supports the plan, predicts it will work. 

"Part of the plan promises stability for years to come," Tedesco said.