Wake County Schools

New Wake assignment proposal combines choice, address-based models

Posted September 19, 2012 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2012 7:16 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Public School System is once again revising its student assignment plan, incorporating the old address-based model with the controlled choice method that debuted this school year.

Capacity issues within the growing school district hampered the choice plan, prompting the school board in June to direct staff to recommend a new assignment proposal for the 2013-14 school year. The board, with a newly elected Democrat-backed majority, requested that staff bring back a base assignment for each Wake County address while maintaining stability for families who have been burdened by disruptive reassignments in recent years. 

The move came just eight months after the former Republican-backed majority voted to implement the controlled choice plan.

At a meeting Tuesday, the school board heard the staff's assignment plan proposal but decided to hold off on five public hearings and a scheduled late October vote. Board members said the proposal needed "robust discussion" before it could be adopted, but generally agreed that it was a positive step toward a better assignment plan for the district.

Parents are encouraged to read the proposal on the school district's website and offer feedback online ahead of the public hearings, which have not yet been rescheduled.

Under the new plan proposal, every residential address will have a corresponding base elementary, middle and high school assignment that considers student achievement, stability, proximity, capacity, neighborhood planning and anticipated growth.

All new families, as well as families who move to a new address within the county, will be assigned to a base school.

This past year, some parents were shocked when they moved right across from a school but couldn't get their children enrolled there because choice rounds were over and seats were filled. Under the new plan, however, students who live in the base area will get priority.

For families currently in the Wake schools system, parents will have the option to send children to the base school or rank among a list of other schools where they would prefer their children to attend.

Students in school this year will be allowed to stay in their current school, if parents wish.

"If you're happy where you are, you can grandfather in and stay where you are," Chief Transformation Officer Judy Peppler said Wednesday.

Before the controlled choice plan was adopted in 2011, children were routinely reassigned as the district struggled to fill new schools and balance others to prevent high concentrations of students from low-income families.

The new plan also does some balancing by taking student achievement into account when determining base attendance areas.

"As we looked at the neighborhood around the school, if there were a lot of kids, we had to move kids to a different school," she said. "We really tried to balance high-performing nodes with low-performing nodes so we can get a good balance of student achievement within a school."

A new deadline has not been set for the adoption of a 2013-14 student assignment plan.