Committee approves new school assignment policy

Policy Committee members meet Wednesday

April 28, 2010 9:11:28 PM PDT
A Wake County school board committee voted 2-1 Wednesday to approve a new school assignment policy that favors a student's proximity to schools and calendar choice over diversity.

The issue will now go to the full school board for its approval.

Policy Committee members Deborah Prickett and Chris Malone voted for the policy. Dr. Anne McLaurin voted against.

Supporters said their top priorities were assigning students to schools closer to home in zones that'll be created over the next year and giving families a choice of year round, traditional calendar, or magnet schools within their zone.

McLaurin said her biggest concern is that the move will lead to high poverty, re-segregated schools. She argued assignments should consider students who perform below grade level as higher needs students - saying too many underachieving students at a given school will strain resources.

"If we're talking about student assignment and we're talking proximity - not achievement - what kind of school board is it? Achievement has to be part of how we're filling our schools," she offered.

But Prickett said the current system isn't working and shuffling kids around in the name of diversity only masks the problems.

"A lot of students are being forced bused out of the area. Sometimes when that happens although deserving of Title 1 services [federal funds that help to meet the educational needs of low-achieving students], they're not getting the services that they need because they're being placed at a school that they may be not receiving T1 funds," she explained.

Budget meeting later Wednesday

The Policy Committee meeting Wednesday was followed by a Finance Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

During the meeting the board talked about an extra $20 million in cuts.

The governor's proposal to cut $34.6 million is not fully in addition to the $20 million. WCPSS was anticipating $14.9 million in cuts this year based on the two year budget passed last year -- part of the $20 million in cuts to budget given to commissioners. What the governor proposed last week is an additional $19.6 million.

Officials could cut guidance counselors, media specialists, school nurses and social workers.

"I would rather, and this is me personally, I would rather people keep their jobs," Wake NCAE President Jennifer Lanane said. "This going through this RIF-ing. The 70 people who lost their jobs it was very painful, not only for the people who were RIFed but the people who were left behind. Many people said it felt like a funeral to them."

They may also decide not to reinstate last years pay cut/furlough hours as proposed by Governor Bev Perdue.

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