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SAS to Help Wake Schools Make Reassignment Plans Earlier

The Cary-based company plans to develop software to allow the Wake County Public School System to create multiyear plans to reassign students.

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CARY, N.C. — The Wake County Public School System should be able to make reassignment plans years earlier with software that a Cary-based company volunteered to create.

SAS, a developer of business intelligence and predictive analytics programs and the world's largest privately held software company, offered its help to WCPSS after plans to reassign nearly 6,500 elementary students for the 2008-2009 school year prompted some parents to petition and protest.

Each year, the Wake County Board of Education reassigns students to keep up with growth and to meet certain diversity standards. However, parents complain that the yearly notice stresses schoolchildren and their families.

"You're trying to figure out what's most important now," said Lisa Phillips, who fought to keep her daughter at her current elementary school. "Do I worry about getting information to help fight the reassignment fight or do I worry about family obligations?"

School board members said the tools they use to analyze data for reassignment, including maps and charts, cannot project enrollments out more than a year.

SAS offered to develop software – for free – that the schools might be using as early as this summer. The 32-year-old company specializes in making software that businesses, including 96 Fortune Global 500 companies, use to examine their data, make predictions and do planning.

"Our interest now is developing more a long-range plan and using data that's projected out two, three, four years based upon what municipal planning departments expect development to be," Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent of WCPSS, said.

School board member Eleanor Goettee said she hopes the software helps alleviate parents' concerns.

"I can see that families are going to be the big winners here," Goettee said. "A multiyear plan is going to greatly reduce the frustration, the anxiety that parents experience each year."

Phillips said she wishes parents would not have to experience that stress at all, but added that a multiyear plan would be an improvement.

"If you're going to give us a three-year plan, that would definitely be better, as long as we could count on the information that's coming out of the plan," Phillips said.


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