New questions surface in reassignment plan

January 13, 2009 3:45:32 PM PST
Some Wake County parents say the reassignment plan is fuzzy math.They are questioning the numbers behind the massive plan. It calls for moving more than 25,000 students to different schools over the next three years.

It also tries to limit the number of lower income students at a given school, like Apex High School, which has very few low income students.

Parents who want their kids to stay at apex high say they have a problem with the numbers Wake County is using in its reassignment plan.

"I was looking for some verification of their rationale for moving us and what I found was inconsistencies," parent Barbara Walsh said.

Walsh says what is inconsistent is the numbers the school system is using to determine how many low income students are at a given school and the number of higher income students needed to meet diversity goals.

At Athens Drive, where her children will be sent, the number of students getting free or reduced price lunch is 26 percent, but the plan shows it's at 40 percent.

"We think that's a more accurate estimate at the high school level of how many kids are coming from low income situations," Chuck Dulaney with WCPSS Growth said.

Dulaney is responsible for the reassignment plan. He says high school students may be too embarrassed to take part in the lunch program.

Dulaney uses the number of elementary students from the same neighborhoods on the lunch program instead and points out numbers in the three year reassignment plan are projections.

"There isn't a right answer for a projection," Dulaney said. "As somebody wisely told me a couple of months ago, if you know the answer it's not a projection any more. It's a fact."

"I don't feel that students should be moved if the facts aren't straight," Walsh said.

The bigger fact that might hurt families like Walsh's is that Apex High is simply overcrowded. And even though mobile units will open with more classrooms this month, the hallways, cafeteria and courtyard won't be getting any bigger.

School leaders admit they could do a better job explaining the numbers.

Parents can still voice their concerns at two more public hearings before a final vote by the school board next month.


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