Assistant Superintendent for Growth and Planning for the school system, Chuck Dulaney, says his staff read and listened to nearly 1500 comments about their original draft. He won't say what changes were made until the plan is made public at Tuesday's school board meeting. He would only say that the comments helped.
"Sometimes it was a very specific suggestion," Dulaney said. "Consider doing this, and we evaluated it that way and sometimes it was just a general concern, we're worried about this, and so we talked about that." Several parents organized to protest the original plan.
Some parents at Farmington Woods Elementary staged a walk to school to show how closely they live to their current campus. It was their way to protest being reassigned to a school farther from home. Parents in the group Wake CARES held a news conference alongside concerned mayors when the first draft came out. They voiced concerns about bussing students several miles from their homes to reach the school board's diversity goals and they don't want parents pressured into schools on a year round schedule.
"Year round causes problems for some parents financially, logistically and in some cases academically," Dawn Graff of Wake CARES said. "I'm hoping some of those changes are made to the plan and that for a change Growth Management will listen to parental concerns and consider them to be valid."
Dulaney calls reassignment a challenge. "It is a puzzle," he said. "There are competing factors when you look at the board's policy the board wants to accomplish a lot of things. But those things don't always work hand and hand. Sometimes a move that accomplishes one goal works against accomplishing another goal."
Some of the policies to which he is referring include limited the number of students who receive free or reduced lunches to forty percent at any given school. The school system will bus students to different schools to either increase or decrease the number. The other policy is opening news schools on a year round calendar which allows more students to use the building by rotating them through on different schedules.
"When we open new schools on year round calendars, what we're doing is reducing the number of schools that we need to build down the road," Dulaney said. "That's why the board of education and the board of county commisioners decided two years ago that new schools should be year round schools."
After the school board gets the revised reassignment plan at its meeting on Tuesday, there will be three public hearings. Comments from those hearings will be used to make more changes before the board votes on a final plan in February.
The Wake County Board of Education will hold three public hearings on the Reassignment Plan for the 2008-09 school year. Speakers will be scheduled in the order they sign up. Preregistration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up here