Wake County Schools

Two Wake student assignment proposals to be unveiled

Posted May 23, 2011 6:12 a.m. EDT
Updated May 23, 2011 1:00 p.m. EDT

— Parents of students in the Wake County Public School System will get their first chance Monday to look at what student assignment could be like under a new policy that moves away from socio-economic diversity as the sole criteria for placing children in schools.

The school system will post a link on its website at 4 p.m., where parents will be able to enter their address and see student assignment options that would be available to them under the proposed plans.

Neither of the plans are new, Superintendent Tony Tata said Monday, but are based on previous plans put before the school board.

The goal, he said, is to find a compromise for supporters of the longstanding practice of busing students to achieve socio-economic diversity and those who support having children going to schools closer to where they live.

The "blue" plan incorporates elements of a community-based choice plan backed by the Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. It would allow parents to enter their address and then choose from a list of available schools.

The "green" plan puts more of an emphasis on balancing student achievement across the county to prevent pockets of good or bad schools. It uses the nodes familiar to Wake families.

“It’s not going to make everybody happy,” Tata said. “There’s just no way to do that, but I think we’re trying to find that middle ground, that balance.”

He expects 80 to 90 percent of parents would be pleased with the options and would get to send their child to the school of their choice. Both plans would cap enrollment so that students can't cluster in schools where the demand is greatest.

The Wake County Board of Education voted last year to favor proximity over socio-economic factors. Supporters of the board's action said the old policy resulted in long bus rides for some students and did not deliver on promised gains in student achievement.

The superintendent previewed the plans for members of the school board last month and, despite a year of divisive battles over how to implement a new student assignment model, was met with cautious approval from both sides.

Tata has said that he will consider the public feedback before making a recommendation to the school board. School leaders plan to implement the new plan for the 2012-13 school year.