Wake County Schools

Wake school board to consider tweaking student assignment plan

Posted June 18, 2012 9:42 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2012 11:23 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County school board will discuss tweaking its choice-based student assignment plan on Tuesday, just days after the school district finished collecting feedback from parents.

The board meets first for a work session Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. with the budget and student assignment among the agenda items.

They'll begin the public meeting about 5:30 p.m. and are expected to pass the 2012-13 budget before taking up the issue of student assignment.

Though the plan was designed to increase parental choice, many parents have criticized it, saying it was more of a lottery than a choice. Many parents claimed their children's assignments would not work for their families.

Superintendent Tony Tata said last week that the district had assigned more than 151,000 students among 169 schools. That's about 800 more students than expected, mostly because of transfers from private and charter schools, as well as population growth.

But only about 3,500 families had requested transfers from their assigned schools, as of June 1 – one of the lowest percentages in years, Tata said.

"All I am getting (in response to the plan) is people saying, 'Thank you,'" said board member Chris Malone.

Board Vice Chair Keith Sutton, however, said he has heard complaints from parents about unpredictability in student assignment under the current plan.

Sutton said the board will discuss whether to make any changes to the plan for the 2013-14 school year. He said he doesn't expect the board to make any dramatic changes, but to make subtle tweaks that would "give us perhaps a new strategy and perspective."

Malone said he thinks time will work out any of the assignment plan's kinks on its own.

"You need to get through the rough patches in the beginning so you know what you need to adjust to make it work," he said.

He added that changes could create more problems for parents and students.

"We need a little consistency," Malone said. "We need a little calm."