Wake board passes student assignment plan

October 17, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
The Wake County School Board passed a new student assignment plan Tuesday evening with a vote of 6 to 2.

The plan replaces Wake County's former model of busing students to achieve balance in socio-economic diversity with a new one based on four elements: proximity, choice, stability and student achievement.

Click here for more detailed information about the plan on the WCPSS web site

"It's a new day in Wake County," said Ron Margiotta, school board chairman. "Node assignments are gone. There will no longer be assignments based on one's socio-economic status or race."

Board members Kevin Hill and Keith Sutton cast the two dissenting votes. Hill said he could not support the plan as it stands.

Sutton said he didn't have an issue with the proposal. He wanted more time to get the community on board.

"There were only a few more questions that needed to be addressed and answered that I think would have been sufficient enough to get folks to say, you know, I support this as a framework, again, as a directive, or direction to move forward,' he explained.

The disappointment among the majority of the people who sat inside the board during the vote was palpable and echoed outside.

"I am not pleased with the vote," said Rev. Portia Rochelle, community pastor. "There are too many questions about the new assignment plan."

There also are those who are pleased with Tata's work and happy to see the plan pass.

"Everybody admits it's not perfect, but it provides for necessary adjustments as we go along," said Bob Moore, education committee and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. "And I think everybody's ready just to move on and to delay it, I think, would be doing the thing that they're saying that we're rushing to prevent, which is politics.

Last week's school board election threw the issue of overall control of the board into doubt, and some said deciding on a new assignment plan should have waited until the election is settled.

There will be a runoff in the Wake County School Board District Three race. Elections officials finished counting provisional ballots and additional absentee ballots Monday, and incumbent Kevin Hill is 48 votes shy of 50 percent plus one majority he needs to avoid a runoff with challenger Heather Losurdo.

The future political direction of the school board hinges on the race. Hill, a Democrat, could tilt the board in favor of the Democrats if he wins reelection as current board chairman Margiotta, a Republican, was defeated in last week's elections.

A runoff election between Hill and challenger Losurdo will be held Nov. 8.

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