Wake County Schools

Tata unveils assignment proposal that boosts parental choice

Posted June 21, 2011 10:05 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2011 6:56 a.m. EDT

— Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata presented a student assignment proposal that he says prioritizes parental choice to the school board Tuesday.

"Parents say they want choice and we are going to have choice moving forward," Tata said.

After considering several assignment options and compiling feedback from parents, the school system narrowed in on two assignment plans – the "blue," or Community-Based Choice, plan and the "green," or Base Schools Achievement, plan.

Tata said his current proposal is a blend of the best of both plans.

"We are calling it the Wake Student Assignment Plan," he said, adding that he hopes to have an assignment plan finalized and in place by October.

Nearly 11,600 families participated in an online "test drive" of the proposed blue plan to help district leaders gather data on what is most important for the school system's families.

At a work session before the school board's full committee meeting Tuesday, district leaders shared some of that preliminary data, which they said helped the current assignment proposal take shape. 

Having multiple school choices is somewhat or very important to 91 percent of test drive participants, a guaranteed middle and high school feeder pattern is important to 89 percent and attending school close to home is somewhat or very important to 88 percent, Student Assignment Task Force team leader James Overman told the school board.

John Tedesco, who was selected as vice-chair of the school board after a vote that took more than two hours and 56 ballots to reach a majority, praised Tata's plan.

"It's what's right for Wake County, what's right for our families, our kids," Tedesco said.

Board member Keith Sutton, who has been an outspoken proponent of drafting an assignment plan that prioritizes balancing diversity in the system's schools, said he is open to change as long as balance is still there.

"A focus on student achievement, making sure achievement balances across schools, I can live with that," he said.

At the Board of Education's regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening, the board voted unanimously to rejoin the North Carolina School Board Association and approved Tata's $313.5 million budget proposal.

The board also voted in favor of changing the bell schedule to add ten minutes to the end of the school day starting in the 2011-2012 school year.