Changes not likely to Wake reassignment

February 5, 2008 3:08:51 PM PST
School board members entered their meeting telling Eyewitness News that they were not planning to make any changes to their reassignment plan before taking their final vote.

The plan moves 6,454 elementary students next school year. School leaders say the moves are necessary to create diversity while filling new schools and easing overcrowding at others.

Parents gave board members an earful during the public comment section of their meeting before the final vote was taken.

Jennifer Etkin of Raleigh is fighting to keep her son at Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary, a school of National Excellence.

The school uses a hands-on approach to learning. For example, second graders made world maps using different foods like Cheerios, noodles and sunflower seeds for different continents.

"I see how he's learning at this school with this methodology as compared to the other elementary school that he attended," Etkin said. "I am so impressed with how it has changed him as a person and how he applies what he learns at school into dealing with situations throughout life."

Their family is part of a higher income base population being cut out of Brooks and sent to a school that has too many lower income children.

Likewise, lower income students will be bused into Brooks to create a more diverse population.

Etkin told school board members they should make nodes (neighborhood groups) smaller to move fewer students to reach their socioeconomic diversity goals. Her husband Alan told the school board that magnet students should be able to stay at their schools to provide continuity in the unique learning environment.

Other parents from Cary are fighting being reassigned to a new year round school, they want Laurel Park to open on a traditional calendar.

Ann Rouleau told board members that there aren't enough seats and that they should delay their vote until they can take a look at changing the calendar.

School board member Eleanor Goettee tells Eyewitness News that it's too late to switch that school's calendar.

"We've already hired the principal and teachers are applying for positions at that school based on a July opening and year round calendar," she said.

Parent Paula King told the board that more parents should be allowed to grandfather in to their current school.

"You've made exceptions at other schools, you should be able to do it for others," she said.

Goettee says she understands why parents are frustrated.

"We're all impacted by this. Our communities are impacted but what we have to look at again is making decisions based on the system as a whole. I can. "

Goettee says she can assure parents one thing.

"We are assuring them that where ever their child is we're going to assure a high quality of education and that is something that I feel good about."

Letters will go home to parents this week with details of their assignment. Parents can start applying to different magnet schools and alternate calendar schools on-line starting Monday.

The Etkin's aren't giving up their fight.

"It's not in my nature to give up," Jennifer Etkin said. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't do everything possible to try to provide the continuity and stability for my children."


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