New questions raised about student assignment plan

January 3, 2012 7:39:30 PM PST
Despite high hopes to the contrary, it appears the new Wake County School Board is already divided over the new student assignment plan.

It's supposed to give parents a choice of sending their kids to closer schools. However, one board member says the plan is "unsustainable".

A lot of the board members have questions about the plan but most have vowed not to make any major changes to this new plan. But one of the newest school board members says he just doesn't see how it will work as is.

"What I see right now is not sustainable," said School Board Member Dr. Jim Martin.

The first work session of the year for the new school board was filled with some doubt.

"It sounds a little bit condescending," said Board Member Debra Goldman.

And some tense moments as board members tackled the assignment plan passed by the last school board. The new plan is supposed to give parents their choice of schools based on where they live.

Parents are supposed to start choosing schools in a couple of weeks. However, many of the school board members still have questions about the plan.

There is some concern there won't be enough seats at high performing schools for students who want to attend.

For Martin, a new school board member, there are still too many unknowns.

"I think it's very unfortunate that a lot of promises have been made to the public, that I'm not convinced are even possible to maintain long term," said Martin. "When you look at issues of choice assignment plans, the real challenge is capacity."

Superintendent Tony Tata says the plan is ready to move forward.

"I really feel good about the plan and I think that the chairman and the vice chairman are leading the board in the direction that we need to go and I feel we'll have a good plan moving forward," said Tata. "We've had a timeline really since March and we're on that timeline."

"From a business plan perspective, I think if this were run by any business school, they'd send it back to the students and say 'sorry, write it again,'" said Martin.

The school system has extended their hours to help parents understand this plan better and ask questions. They've also set up the next round of informational sessions for parents starting this week.

Meanwhile, the school board will still pick the plan apart bit by bit until they can hammer out all the details and make changes if need be.

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