Wake County Schools

Wake schools blog: Feb. 15 school board meeting

Among the items on the day's agenda is the discussion of three final school assignment changes for the 2011-12 school year, redistricting, a signing bonus for the principal position at Walnut Creek Elementary School in southeast Raleigh, which opens this fall and bell schedule recommendations for the next school year.

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Wake County Public School System
RALEIGH, N.C.The Wake County Board of Education met Feb. 15, 2011, for a work session and board meeting. Among the items on the day’s agenda were the discussion of three final school assignment changes for the 2011-12 school year, redistricting, a signing bonus for the principal position at Walnut Creek Elementary School in southeast Raleigh, which opens this fall and bell schedule recommendations for the next school year.
7 p.m. – Meeting recap

After a brief public comment session, the board moved forward quickly approving a number of items on the agenda that were discussed in today’s work session, including three changes to next school year’s student assignment plan, a signing bonus for the principal position at Walnut Creek Elementary School and a bonus plan for the so-called “Renaissance Schools.”

Added to the agenda was an action item to adopt the redistricting guidelines (with changes) presented during the work session by Shanahan Law Group.

Board members Kevin Hill and Ann McLaurin also introduced a resolution saying that the redistricting process should be done in an “open, transparent and inclusive manner.” It passed 7-1 with Deborah Prickett voting against the resolution, saying it is redundant.

The board then went into a closed session to consider several items protected under state privacy laws.

6 p.m. – Technical issues

Technical problems are preventing live coverage of this evening's Wake County Board of Education meeting. Please stand by as we attempt to resolve these issues.

4:35 p.m. – Closed session

The board work session ends early and the board is going into a closed session until 5:30 p.m.

4:20 p.m. – Schematic design for E-20 elementary school

The board is now hearing about schematic design of a new elementary school, right now being called E 20, that will be built on Durant Road in Raleigh.

The school is projected to open in 2013 and is estimated to run nearly $23 million, including $1.4 million of offsite public improvements.

It’s an informational presentation to give board members a chance to ask questions. It should be placed on the board meeting’s agenda for its March 1 meeting.

3:15 p.m. – Redistricting and the Shanahan Law Group

Kieran Shanahan, with Shanahan Law Group, is giving a presentation to the board on redistricting. The board voted during its Feb. 1 meeting to retain Shanahan to help in redrawing school district lines.

District lines must be redrawn every 10 years based on U.S. census data.

Shanahan lists a number of proposed guidelines for redistricting, including:

- Making all districts consist of equal populations.
- Not splitting precincts, except when needed to conform with federal law.
- Considering redistricting plans that would increase minority representation on the board

- Conducting a public hearing on any proposed redistricting plan to allow input from all affected communities.

Goldman asks what happens if you aren’t up for re-election but the district line is redrawn and you live outside of the redrawn election. What happens then since criteria is that you have to live in the district you represent.

You cannot finish your term.

After some discussion and a review of a list of possible redistricting guidelines that the school board decides to approve the list of Shanahan guidelines, with a few small changes to a guideline regarding public meetings.

The board also decides to add two guidelines from the previous guidelines:

“To the extent practical, to avoid questions about adequate representations, new boundaries, should not be drawn to take incumbents out of their districts.”

“In analyzing district population balance, political party registration should not be taken into account.”

Shanahan also puts forth a draft of a proposed time line with the board conducting its final meeting for public input on or before June 24, during which the redistricting plan is considered and improved.

A more finalized time line will be established once Shanahan’s firm receives the U.S. census data. That could be around or before March 17, but could be longer.

2:50 p.m. - Break

The board is ahead of schedule and takes a break before discussing the design of a new elementary school, right now being called E 20, that will be built on Durant Road in Raleigh. After that, the only item left on the agenda is a discussion with Raleigh attorney Kieran Shanahan, whom the board hired this month to help with redistricting.

2:45 p.m. – Bell schedule recommendations

Don Haydon, chief of operations for the school system, is presenting recommendations for the 2011-12 school year. There are not many changes this year.

Two bells schedules, however, are up for change – Leesville Road Middle changing from 8:05 a.m. until 3 p.m. to 8:15 a.m. until 3 pm.; West Lake Elementary School changes from 8:20 a.m. until 3 p.m. to 8:20 a.m. until 2:50 p.m.

Walnut Creek Elementary will have a schedule of 8:30 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. with the extended day program beginning at 7:15 a.m.

2 p.m. – "Renaissance Schools" bonus plan

The school system has four schools to take part in its “Renaissance School” plan that uses federal Race to the Top funding.

According to the school system, that’s $10.2 million will be used to reinvent four of the district’s lowest-performing schools – Barwell Road Elementary, Brentwood Elementary, Creech Road Elementary and Wilburn Elementary.

Teachers with a record of student growth would be recruited with bonuses. Classrooms would be outfitted with the latest technology. There would be flexibility in the school day and school year to provide more instructional time. Teachers would earn performance pay for student academic growth.

Under the plan, teachers and staff must reapply for their job or be transferred. Today’s discussion has to do with bonus plans for staff at these four schools. It’s part of an effort to “promote and sustain high expectations for the future academic performance of these schools,” according to the school board’s work session agenda.

Positions excluded include Child Nutrition Service, custodial and bus driver positions.

Under the proposed signing bonus plan, a principal would receive $7,000, an assistant teacher, $5,000, teacher, $2,900 and support staff, $1,000.

Teachers who are rehired would be eligible for a signing bonus, but those placed at the school by the school system won’t receive the bonus.

There’s also a performance bonus plan in which a principal would receive $7,000. Other staff would receive anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on their position..

“The standards are high,” says Stephen Gainey, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, says.

Standards are divided into six categories (principals, assistant principals, grades 4-5 teacher, grade 3 teacher, grades preK-2 teachers and non-certified support staff) and are based on whole school growth, individual growth in which a teacher’s students meet expected growth targets on end-of-grade testing and evaluation growth .

Under the proposed plan, the Renaissance School plan will coast $950,000 per year for the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Tata told reporters earlier that if these Renaissance Schools are successful, funding to continue the program could be incorporated into the budget when that funding runs out.

1:45 p.m. – Signing bonus for Walnut Creek Elementary School principal position

This is a suggestion made by Tata. Walnut Creek Elementary is a new school that will open next school year with around 80 percent of the students receiving free or reduced lunches. Among other things to try and promote achievement in a largely poor school, Tata wants to offer a bonus to get a good teacher to take the project on. That bonus appears to be $7,000, based on the meeting agenda.

1 p.m.

Superintendent Tony Tata asks that the agenda item for the work session – “Concept and Timeline for Program Adjustments to Address Under-Enrolled Schools including Timeline for Magnet Review” be removed from the agenda and says he wants the task of creating the student assignment plan.

Board member Kevin Hill says the board needs to give the staff direction on how to develop the plan.

Tata says he’s not opposed to direction from the board but wants the freedom and latitude to develop a plan and says he’s willing to offer periodic updates to the board.

During a break, Tedesco says he’s pleased with Tata taking over the task of creating the student assignment plan.

Tata says he hopes to have a plan by late spring that will incorporate community input, as well as the WakeEd plan (created by Boston-based consultant Michael Alves) and the work by Tedesco and his student assignment committee.

It would then go to the community for feedback.

12:50 p.m. - Report from Student Assignment Committee Chair

John Tedesco, who chairs the committee recommends suspending the ad hoc committee in light of new input from the Wake Education Partnership and Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. Tedesco recommends sending the WakeEd plan to the superintendent to have him and his staff review the Wake Schools Choice plan and then come back to the board with recommendations.

The ad hoc committee is abolished, Margiotta says.

12:45 p.m. – Discussion o three final school assignment changes for the 201-12 school year.

Don Haydon and Larua Evans give a quick review of three additional changes that were not approved at the last board meeting on Feb. 1.

The first proposed change deals with crowding at Forest Pines Drive Elementary School and assigns students from Forest Pines to Wildwood Forest Elementary School. It would affect approximately 1100 students. Node 246.1 is affected.

The second change is to assign students from East Cary Middle School to West Cary Middle School. It would affect nine students. Node 380.7 is affected.

The third change is to assign students from Crech Road Elementary School to Aversboro Elementary School. Node 504.1 is affected.

Noon - Information on Crossroads Board Room

Joe Desormeaux, assistant superintendent of facilities, presents to the board alternative layouts for the board room at the school system’s new headquarters, to be located in Crossroads.

As it’s planned, the room layout would hold approximately 231 seats, as well as additional seats for staff and board. There’s some concern here about having some of the board member’s backs to the audience.

An alternative arrangement being referred to as “the Goldman plan” would provide approx 265 seats for the audience. To make this happen, it would be approx. $60,000 more to rearrange it.

Board member Chris Malone says the alternative allows for more people to be seated, pointing out some previous comments of Board Vice Chairwoman Debra Goldman, who was running late for today’s meeting.

Another reason for the change in the board room layout is for security reasons. In this layout, it would be possible to see everyone, and there’s an extra door nearby.

Another alternative put forth involves a new table layoute pushed farther back to the wall.

Many of the other options discussed range in price from an estimated $16,000 to $28,000.

Goldman, who is now at the meeting, reminds everyone that this room will be used for the next 20 years. She points out that the “Goldman plan” would move the table to the far right side of the room and allow more direct viewing for both the audience and the board members. It’s also the safest option.

John Tedesco as said that he’s fine with the staff’s original recommendation, citing the extra costs. “Let’s just sit and do our work. Who cares how we sit?

The board decides to leave everything alone. The item is pulled from the agenda.


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