Partial plan on reassignment by 2011 in works

Staff WriterSeptember 22, 2010 

— At least a partial version of Wake County's new student assignment plan, which scraps socioeconomic diversity in favor of neighborhood schools, could be in place in 2011, a year ahead of schedule.

The timetable developed by administrators called for the board to complete the new assignment model late next year for implementation in the 2012-13 school year. But members of the school board majority said Tuesday that every effort should be made to have some changes made for the 2011-12 school year.

"It won't be easy," said school board Chairman Ron Margiotta. "But we can still have something in place for the start of the next school year."

School board member John Tedesco, chairman of the student assignment committee, said he'll look at bringing something to the full board by the spring. Tedesco said they can try to implement some elements next school year with more of the changes taking effect in 2012.

Tedesco's committee is reviewing a model, largely based on current high school attendance boundaries, that would divide the county into 16 neighborhood school zones. The boundary lines, which Tedesco stressed are still a long way from being completed, are based on providing families with stability, choice and proximity to where they live.

Last week, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership announced they were hiring education consultant Michael Alves to develop an alternative, but unofficial, blueprint that would promote diversity by incorporating student achievement.

McLaurin objects

Members of the board's minority faction, who are already upset that diversity is not part of the assignment equation, objected to the majority trying to push up completion of the plan.

"It's a mistake," said school board member Anne McLaurin. "It's got to be thoughtful and thorough."

On Tuesday, members of the board majority chastised McLaurin and Carolyn Morrison, another member of the minority faction, for holding community meetings about the new plan. Tedesco said they need to be careful about sending mixed messages to the public.

"We need to be more circumspect about telling people what will happen," said Chris Malone, a member of the board majority.

The board plans public meetings before adopting the new plan.

But McLaurin and Morrison insisted they're doing what constituents want.

"A district board member is supposed to represent that district," McLaurin said during the meeting. "So I'm having a little bit of concern about why I have to ask for or beg for forgiveness for meeting with the public."

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