Wake County Schools

Garner chamber hears 'controlled choice' plan for student assignment

Posted October 28, 2010 11:07 a.m. EDT
Updated October 28, 2010 11:41 a.m. EDT

School Bus

— The Garner Chamber of Commerce received an update Wednesday on work involving an alternative student assignment plan for the Wake County Public School System.

Earlier this year, Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce hired Boston-based consultant Michael Alves to craft a plan that would give Wake County families options about where their children should go to school while focusing on the academic achievement mix of students attending each school.

The decision last month to hire Alves came amid the Wake County school board’s work on a 16-zone reassignment plan aimed at placing students in schools closer to their homes instead of assigning them to schools across the district to help achieve socio-economic diversity.

The school board's move to replace the decade-old busing policy has drawn protests from the NAACP, a number of community groups and residents who believe the change will lead to re-segregation, high teacher turnover and a lower quality of education for low-income students.

Proponents of the community-based assignment model have said the plan will create stability in students' education and give parents' choices.

WakeEd and the chamber of commerce say that Alves’ plan would focus on all the concerns, emphasizing parental choice, proximity, stable assignments, student achievement and making sure all students have access to good schools.

Parents would be able to choose schools within the assignment area they live in for their children – whether it be a traditional-calendar, year-round calendar or magnet school. Once enrolled, students would remain in the school until parents decide to leave.

But when granting choices, attention would be given to the academic makeup of a school to maintain high student expectations in every school, while making it easier to retain high-quality teachers and principals.

Each attendance area must accommodate future growth and remain reasonable similar over time.

Alves’ plan is the only plan under development at the moment.

The school board scrapped work on a plan this month to move to community-based assignment after Vice Chairwoman Debra Goldman expressed concerns that parents and other board members weren’t getting enough opportunities to provide feedback on the plan.

Board members, however, say they still plan to move ahead with the plan, although they aren’t sure how it will look.