New assignments could create high poverty schools

Students and a teacher in a classroom

August 18, 2011 8:17:04 AM PDT
If you could choose where your children go to school, chances are you would keep them close to home.

That's what Superintendent Tony Tata said Tuesday while debuting new details on an assignment plan that would allow parents to choose, but for those in lower income areas, some say that could be a problem.

"Well, I mean, there's always been a concern since we started discussing changes to the assignment plan," Wake County school board member Keith Sutton said.

Sutton represents east Raleigh. There is concern his district could turn into one filled with high poverty schools if southeast Raleigh families choose nearby schools and other parents stay away.

"Those neighborhoods were picked apart block by block, 50 families here, 50 families here, and sort of sent to the far corners of the county," board member John Tedesco said. "In this model, they'll at least have a choice."

Tedesco says with the new plan, families will have choice instead of being bused across town.

"It really depends on the address, so basically you live in address x, and you'll have two or three base choices, maybe they could choose between Enloe and Southeast Raleigh," Tedesco added.

There also is concern that magnet programs in higher poverty areas could suffer with the new plan, but Sutton says the magnets could be the key to diversity.

"Keeping the magnet program intact and how we set aside a certain amount of seats for students within the community and with outside the base community as well, hopefully that will keep that to a minimum," Sutton said.

Sutton is up for re-election in November. He plans to hold a town hall style meeting next week for parents. There also will be a series of sessions for public input with the school board.

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