Local News

School Board Votes in Favor of Reassignment Plan

Posted February 5, 2008 7:51 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2008 9:00 p.m. EST

— The Wake County school board voted Tuesday night in favor of a controversial reassignment plan that would move 6,400 students to different schools.

The board removed about 370 elementary students from the plan last week, leaving 6,454 slated to change schools next school year.

Board members said they took into account input from parents at three public hearings since the draft plan was announced in early December.

Officials said the changes are necessary to fill three new schools – Laurel Park, Mills Park and Sycamore Creek – and to keep up with growth and balance economic levels in each school.

Under the initial reassignment plan, about 2,700 children would have moved to the new schools. That plan also sought to fill seats at the schools that were losing students to the new schools. In the process, about 3,800 students would have transferred to schools closer to their homes.

Michelle Witherspoon said she opted to send her child to a charter school after hearing the busing that the reassignment plans would entail.

"Here we are right next door to Durant year-round and Wildwood Forest, and they want to bus all the way down Capital with all that traffic," she said.

The Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children voiced support for the reassignment plans. The changes would "promote academic achievement for all children," a release from CCCAAC read.

Supporters argued that reassignment is a must for a system growing as fast as Wake County. It became the largest in the state in 2007 and expects to grow by 6,000 to approximately 140,000 students next year.

Reassignment is necessary to balance diversity across the county and keep some schools from falling behind, said Wake County Schools Superintendent Del Burns.

"Then, we'd fall into a situation where you have the 'have' and the 'have-not' schools," Burns said. "That does not help a community. It does not help kids, and it's not something I want to be a part of."

System administrators say they aim to create "healthy schools," where less than 40 percent of students are from low-income families. Officials deem a school's poverty rate based on the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Administrators also judge a school's diversity on its end-of-grade exam scores and the number of students in special education or with limited proficiency in English.