Wake County Schools

As parents experiment with student assignment, Wake school board meets

Posted June 12, 2011 5:41 p.m. EDT

— Wake County parents can experiment with ranking the schools where they would prefer to send their children beginning Monday at 5 p.m. Leaders of the Wake County Public School System set up the trial run to see what choices parents would make if given the option.

The “Community-Based Choice” plan (the "blue" plan) allows parents to choose from a variety of four to six elementary schools, each linked with a middle and high school. Students get priority based on whether they have a sibling at the school or live close by, and the district takes into account achievement balance and capacity at any individual school.

Test drive the "blue plan"

The alternative, the “Base Schools Achievement " or "green" plan, is similar to the current assignment model. Under it, the school system assigns students based on student achievement, ensuring that students from low-performing areas end up at high-performing schools.

Superintendent Tony Tata introduced the two plans last month, and parents had through Sunday to read them over and share their comments on the district's website. The pages were visited more then 280,000 times and almost 2,000 visitors left a comment, according to Michael Evans, a spokesman for the Wake County Public School System. Of those who left a message, 682 indicated a preference for the blue plan, Evans said.

Tata called a special work session Monday at 5:30 p.m. to brief the Board of Education. He has said he hopes to have a single plan for the school board to consider at its June 21 meeting.

The plans are alternative courses of action to replace the district's current long-standing policy of assigning students based on socio-economic diversity in favor of a policy that assigns students based on where they live. 

The state NAACP, which has been vocal in its opposition to the change in student assignment, sent a letter Monday to Tata asking for a meeting about the proposals. 

Rev. William Barber, the president of the group, wrote, "How will either of the proposed plans ensure, with built-in and concrete corrective mechanisms that any significant increase in re-segregation will trigger, that Wake County will not create or increase racially identifiable, high-poverty schools?"