Local News

Parents to weigh in on Wake reassignment plan

Posted November 20, 2008 5:23 a.m. EST
Updated November 27, 2008 11:44 a.m. EST

— At a public meeting Thursday night, parents will get their first chance to weigh in on the draft, three-year plan that would reassign more than 26,000 Wake County students.

Drawing from a student population of approximately 140,000, that means about one in five students will be moved to a different school over the next three years.

“It’s the same old shuffle game. It’s a shame that we’re doing this to children because I think we lose perspective often that these are human being that are being moved constantly,” parent Cindy Sinkez said.

Administration officials say reassignment is necessary to keep classes from becoming overcrowded. The school system grows by more than 4,000 students a year.

"There will need to be changes every year as long as we keep growing every year," said Chuck Delaney, assistant superintendent of the Wake County Public School System. "It's something that has to be done."

The first of will take place at Knightdale High School, 100 Bryan Chalk Lane, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

After the public meetings, WCPSS staff will make its recommendations to the county Board of Education by Dec. 16. The school board will then hold a new round of public meetings and finalize the plan by or on Feb. 3. Board members will also decide which students are eligible for grandfathering, allowing them to stay at their current schools.

Mailings will be sent out to the parents of affected students, and they will know final assignments by mid-May of next year.

The reassignment proposal, released on the Internet on Saturday, is the district's attempt to plan for student population growth and movement more than a year in advance.

School officials said they aimed to keep the same students together through elementary, middle and high school. They also considered schools' socioeconomic balance, the distance students would be bused and the state's magnet-school policy.

In 2008-2009, the first year of the plan, 8,162 students would be reassigned. The greatest number of students – 14,200 – would be reassigned in 2009-2010, while 4,409 students will be reassigned in the following year, the last of the plan.

The plan assumes that 10 schools under or planned for construction will open as scheduled.

“As long as growth continues and we build schools, then they’ll have to be some assignment of students,” Superintendent Del Burns said.

The plan also calls for Leesville Road Middle to switch from a traditional to a year-round schedule next year – a move that drew complaints from some parents at a Monday meeting.

“It is disruptive to families. It is disruptive to communities,” parent Richard Borris said.

"What happened to keeping families together?” asked parent Lisa Boneham, who said her children would be put on different schedules.

Other parents, though, have organized the BiggerPicture4Wake group to support the year-round  plan.

"It should, in the long run, reduce reassignments because we will be able to increase capacity, and that will give them some wiggle room and flexibility," Marguerite LeBlanc, the group's spokeswoman, said. "So when we get more students, we will have room for them.”