Wake board sees new assignment plan

October 5, 2011 2:52:38 PM PDT
Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata presented a new student assignment plan to the school board Tuesday.

Harsh words followed the unveiling.

"It will cost more for transportation," Raleigh resident Sharon Eckard said during the public comment portion of the school board meeting.

Others say the decision to unveil the new plan so close to the school board election is not a good idea.

"To plan an upcoming vote in the next few weeks on a new assignment plan that affects 150,000 students in the midst of what portends to be the most important school board election in decades, smacks more of political theater than of good governance," said Cary resident David Zonderman.

The plan, which has been in the works for months, is the culmination of hours of work by district staff and more than a dozen public hearings and thousands of comments from parents and students.

Click here to read the latest version of the proposal on the WCPSS website

According to district officials, the plan - which is for the 2012-2013 school year - calls for school choices and priorities to be based on a student's specific address. Students will have priority to their most proximate schools.

That would fulfill the promise of the majority of school board members who came into office in 2009 on a platform of doing away with the district's old policy of assigning students based on socioeconomic diversity in favor of sending students to schools closer to their homes.

Plans to scrap that assignment policy have been highly controversial, leading to charges of resegregation and protests at school board meetings.

Tata says the new plan would help mitigate the spread of high poverty schools by preserving magnet schools in their current state.

Families who want to send their child to a magnet school can apply each fall. In the event a family does not receive their first choice, they will be placed on a waiting list for their first-choice school.

The overall plan would give every family a choice of at least five elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools with a mixture of calendar choices.

All currently enrolled students can stay in their current school if they want to and get transportation. They can stay on their current feeder pattern as they graduate from elementary to middle and high school.

Officials acknowledge that students may not get their first choice of a school. If they don't, preference will go to siblings and applicants ranked by proximity.

Tata says he hopes the school board will vote on the new proposed plan on October 18, so parents can be informed and assignments can be made in time for the start of next school year.

There will be one more public hearing about the plan on October 13. It's set for 5 p.m. at Broughton High School in Raleigh.

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