Wake County Schools

'Controlled choice' plan for Wake schools expected Friday

Posted February 8, 2011 3:52 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2011 4:43 p.m. EST

School Bus

— Two local nonprofit groups are expected to say this week how they think students in Wake County should be assigned to schools.

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership say they will release a plan at a news conference set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary. (Watch the news conference live on WRAL.com.)

In response to a controversial policy approved last February by the Wake County Board of Education, the two groups 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.

Although the groups haven’t said what the plan entails, Alves is known for his work on what he calls a “controlled choice” method for student assignment.

The plan, he has said, divides a school system into zones based on a computer model that distributes the student population so that each area is representative of the entire school system.

Alves has said that the goal is both to give parents choices about their child's education and to improve "under-chosen" schools.

The school board’s move last year to do away with a decade-old practice of busing students to help keep schools diverse sparked an outcry from many fearful that implementing a neighborhood-based assignment policy will segregate schools and keep economically disadvantaged students from receiving the same quality of education as their counterparts.

Under the old policy, which is in place until the end of the 2012-13 school year, students are bused across district lines so that no schools have a student population of more than 40 percent receiving free or reduced lunch.

How the new policy will be implemented is still unclear.

In October, the board voted 5-3 to start over with how to do so after concerns that parents and other board members weren’t being given enough input.