Board meeting gets heated over assignments

November 9, 2010 9:09:12 PM PST
A heated exchange between school board members was prompted Tuesday by discussion over the need to make sure any student assignment plan follows county policy.The discussion started at the board's Committee of the Whole meeting, after board member Kevin Hill urged his colleagues to consider developing a student assignment planning process.

Hill suggested that as a board, they have an agreement of what equity and proximity is.

However, Board Chairman Ron Margiotta said Hill was asking for a process of how they assign students and incorporate student achievement levels.

Hill, along with other members of the board minority, seem to favor the idea of including student achievement as a factor in assignments, which is an idea that's in line with the student assignment plan being developed by consultant Michael Alves under the direction of outside groups.

The Massachusetts consultant who will eventually present his plan to the board. The plan is being developed around four main principles --choice, stability, proximity and student achievement-- and it would divide the district into areas, considering demographics and student achievement.

"Student achievement is part of policy 6200, so I think we have to pay attention to it," Hill said.

But Margiotta, along several other board Republicans, feel otherwise.

"Why should assignment have anything to do with student achievement," he said. "Why would we assign a bunch of low-performing kids to one school? We're trying to give choice to parents."

Board members Deborah Prickett and Board Vice-Chair Debra Goldman also joined in on the debate.

"There was a ton of work that went into this policy," Goldman said.

So what was the point of the directive," Prickett interrupted.

"Can I finish my sentence please," Goldman said.

"Well, you can finish, but I need to add that in because it really kind of weighs into this," Prickett interjected. "I'm kind of like what was the point."

"I'm not gonna, I guess I can't finish my conversation," Goldman replied as she hit the table.

Goldman later declined to comment to ABC11 on the role of student achievement in assignment.

In the meantime, Hill's proposal is expected to be discussed a third time at next Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.

Meanwhile, the board also discussed community workshops that will be taking place next week.

The workshops will be held to review the third year of the current assignment plan --the 2011-2012 school year-- which was approved by the BOE in February 2009 and amended in April 2010.

The three workshops are open to the public, so parents can bring up concerns and questions about the assignment plan.

The first one will be held on Nov. 15 at Millbrook HS. The second will be on Nov. 16 at SE Raleigh HS and the last one will be on Nov. 18 at Cary HS.

All three will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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