Wake school member unveils his plan

WAKE COUNTY School Board Member John Tedesco called the meeting to explain his vision for community based schools.

More than a dozen community members were at the meeting hoping to get a better idea of the future of Wake County Public Schools.

The presentation lasted for more than an hour, and in it, Tedesco presented his vision for how the school system will make student assignments and will provide parents with the choices they've been asking for.

"We do not have a diversity problem, we have a growth management problem," he said. "I think its incumbent upon us to design a system to challenge, while raising our most vulnerable simultaneously.

The presentation was not of the actual plan, Tedesco says that will come later and will be the product of input from other board members and the community.

During the meeting, he focused on a series of general ideas that everyone should have a base neighborhood assignment in their general zone.

Tedesco wants parents to have a calendar choice for elementary schools within their zones and middle schools within their regions.

He says setting up a new selective algorithm is key, one that considers the factors valued most by the community. Tedesco also proposed making significant adjustments to what he described as "rigid" nodes.

"We're not nodes, we're families, we're neighborhoods, we're communities and everything we do now is with these assigned nodes," Tedesco said. "Let our families have choice."

Some say the plan's goals can be accomplished by building on the existing student assignment plan.

"I think that what John Tedesco is interested in is having a new plan that has his name on it, so he can call it something different," said Yevonne Brannon with Great Schools in Wake Coalition. "But a pig with lipstick is still a pig."

Fellow school board member Anne McLaurin was one of several board members present for the meeting. She says she wasn't surprised by anything, but did have some concerns.

"What I saw was a map with high areas of poverty," she said, "What I didn't see was an explanation for how we were going to do that differently."

The next step is for the student assignment committee to develop the plan. That is expected to take place during the next five months.

There is also talk of having several public meetings to get feedback from taxpayers before the board votes on the final plan.

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