Wake school board member holds town meeting

Debra Goldman

October 13, 2010 8:35:17 AM PDT
The Wake County Board of Education member who derailed the board majority's plan to move to community school zones spoke out Tuesday.

Last week, Vice Chairman Debra Goldman decided not to vote for the plan, because she said it didn't reflect her desire to offer families a base school.

Goldman listened to what parents had to say on Tuesday at the Cary town hall forum and restated her preference for a base neighborhood school assignment.

She said despite her vote to halt zone based assignments, she stands firmly behind community based schools.

Goldman's decision has made headlines as she was publically criticized by fellow board members and student assignment committee chair John Tedesco.

During Tuesday's student assignment committee meeting, Wake School Board Member Chris Malone called the process for community schools a mess.

"My beef with this is that it wasn't amended it was ended," he said. "It wasn't a scalpel used, it was a hammer."

Both Malone and Tedesco said Goldman's vote brought the board back to square one, to before they were elected last year.

They said they were put in office to end busing for diversity, create community schools and provide equal opportunity to all students.

"This system for too long has been inequitable to many of our children," Tedesco said. "You saw many schools that have seven foreign languages and some schools didn't have any. That's not fair in my opinion. We need some fairness in this county for all of our schools and that's what we were trying to get to with the zone plan."

Tedesco wants parents to have three choices, but Goldman says having three choices won't solve the issue.

"You could theoretically have three neighbors put down the same three choices for schools and all end up at different schools," Goldman said.

Chris Malone explained that for now, the board will continue to operate under the 3-year assignment plan that runs through the 2011-2012 school year. Those school assignments were made under the old policy 6200 which held diversity as a priority in school assignments. Any assignments that are changed from this point forward will be under the new policy 6200 which holds proximity as the top priority and no longer includes diversity as a factor.

"Last Spring we moved some students to schools closer to their homes ," Malone said. "We anticipate moving more this coming Spring. If we move anyone from this point forward it will be for proximity."

Board minority members said Goldman's vote and Tuesday's cordial meeting gives them hope, the two sides can work together.

"I certainly think it's a new direction," Wake School Board Member Keith Sutton said.

They say they have to be united and not so divided in the future.

"I think we got to get away from 5-4 votes either way or the decision this board makes won't be good for kids," Wake School Board Member Kevin Hill said.

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