Wake County Schools

Wake school board approves part of reassignment plan

Posted February 1, 2011 5:35 a.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2011 9:06 a.m. EST

— After nearly two hours of discussion and individual votes on each change, the Wake County school board on Tuesday approved part of a student assignment plan that will affect nearly 4,000 students in the upcoming academic year.

The board had planned a single vote on dozens of changes aimed at helping manage student growth next year and to fill Walnut Creek Elementary School in southeast Raleigh, but decided to vote on each change after board member Kevin Hill suggested dropping more than two dozen of the changes.

Ultimately, three changes were removed from the proposal that Laura Evans, senior director of the school system’s growth and planning departments, said she did not think would have a negative impact on overall reassignment.

The board didn't address changes to the proposal made after a series of public hearings. The board expects to approve them at a public hearing on Feb. 15.

The reassignment plan – the final phase of a three-year plan put in place in 2008 – has drawn ire from board critics who oppose the district’s controversial new student assignment policy, which assigns to students to schools based on where they live.

It replaces a decade-old practice of busing students so that no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches. Many are concerned that changing the policy will segregate schools and deny children who are economically disadvantaged from receiving the same level of education as their counterparts.

Next year’s changes, critics say, will begin that process.

Great Schools in Wake County says nearly 90 percent of students affected are economically disadvantaged children being reassigned to high-poverty schools in their own neighborhoods.

“Please hold off on making these detrimental moves,” one person said during the public comment period at Tuesday’s board meeting, adding that the plan will also mean the “death of magnet schools.”

Proponents of magnet schools are concerned because the reassignment plan will take away seats in magnet schools, which draw students from other parts of the school district.