Local News

Sen. Neal Hunt sponsoring neighborhood schools bill

Posted February 23, 2009 11:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2009 12:03 a.m. EST

— A bill before the North Carolina General Assembly is aimed at putting end to the controversial school busing issue.

If passed, the Neighborhood Schools & Teacher Merit Pay bill would require reassigned students who live within one and a half miles of a school be assign to that school, or the district must provide a voucher for the student to attend private school.

Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake is sponsoring the bill.

"If you lived right near a school, what sense does it make to pack that person up and bus them across town,” Hunt said.

Officials with Wake County schools say only 3 percent of students involuntarily get bused to a school more than 5 miles away.

School officials also say student reassignment is primarily to account for projected growth. Districts also need to make room for low-income students who are often bused to meet economic-diversity goals for each school.

Also, under the bill, staff at schools that meet expectations would not get bonuses; only those at schools that exceed expectations would get them.

"It makes absolute sense to pay the best teachers more than the worst teachers,” Hunt said.

A similar bill proposed last year didn't pass after getting a failing grade from the North Carolina Association of Educators. A spokesperson from the association was not available for comment Monday night.