New Wake County School Board members sworn in

December 6, 2011 7:20:31 PM PST
The new Wake County School Board got an earful from concerned parents minutes after taking office Tuesday.

The new board, now controlled by Democrats, chose a chairman and vice chairman and then got down to business.

Board members heard public comments from parents about the student assignment plan. That's the plan approved by the old board.

Five school board members were sworn in during an official ceremony. They now make up a Democratic majority. It's a major shift from a Republican-led school board that scrapped the controversial busing for diversity policy.

Minutes after the applause and speeches happened they held their first meeting. The board voted Democrats Kevin Hill and Keith Sutton as chair and vice-chair of the new board and right away were given an earful from parents.

"You're failing the parents of Carpenter Elementary," said parent Patty Hager.

Several parents from East Cary Middle School say they're not happy with the new student assignment plan, which the board says gives families closer schools.

"You chose to feed Carpenter students there because you need to fill it up," said parent Maria Reier. "You know it's not proximate. You know there are better choices for a feeder. But if you change Carpenter's feeder, East Cary will continue to sit half empty."

New school board member Susan Evans says they're listening.

"It seemed the majority of the comments this evening surrounded frustrations with the feeder patterns associated with the new assignment plan and I've heard a lot of those frustrations already," said Evans. "So that is definitely something we'll be taking under consideration."

Hill, who was voted chair by a 5-4 vote, says that split vote is not a sign of things to come.

"I'm hoping to be able to use those experiences, my relationships with staff, with principals, with the superintendent, to work with all my colleagues on the board to help them move along so we can get away from this 5-4," said Hill.

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