Alternative Wake school assignment plan offered

February 11, 2011 9:46:53 AM PST
The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership unveiled a plan Friday aimed at taking some of the heat out of the ongoing diversity debate in Wake County schools.

The groups offered a new assignment model that gives something to both sides of the argument - those who want to maintain current diversity levels and those who favor sending students to schools closer to their homes.

Click here to see the plan at

The proposal would rank families on a list of schools they want to attend and then, a computer program would decide where students would go. Priority would be given for people who want to go to their closest school. The model also calls for the use of test scores to try to limit schools from having too many under-performing students.

In a news release, The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake Education Partnership said their proposal focuses on stability, choice, proximity, and student achievement as primary criteria for assigning students. It listed the following benefits:

· parental choice of schools,

· proximity without the use of mandatory attendance zones,

· elimination of mandatory reassignments,

· diversity without mandates,

· maximization of school resources and capacity, and

· student achievement as a top priority for every Wake County child.

"This proposal presents every Wake County family with equal opportunity to choose their preferred schools, while providing stability," said Gary Joyner, chair of the chamber’s board of directors. "Parents and students will have ownership over their education experience."

The groups said if the proposal is accepted by the Wake County Board of Education, it can be implemented by the 2012/13 school year.

The proposal drew an immediate response from school board member Debra Goldman:

"I feel that the appropriate course of action moving forward is to propose that the School Board refer this plan to our new Superintendent, Anthony Tata. He may then review the plan and determine with his staff as to how to move forward. They in turn would have the opportunity to make recommendations for the Board's consideration with respect to any revisions and/or implementation," she said in a statement.

The plan would not guarantee parents their choice of schools, but priority would be given to families that live within a mile and a half of a campus

Education consultant Michael Alves - who helped draft the plan - said 80 to 85 percent of families could get their first choice, while 93 percent could get their first or second choice.

"This plan is focused on children in the future who need a school assignment or children or parents who want to transfer and in terms of the diversity all that would be grandfathered in," he offered.

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