Tata wants accord on school board

Staff WriterFebruary 25, 2011 

  • The meeting today will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the second-floor conference room of Apex Town Hall, 73 Hunter St., Apex.

    On Saturday, the meeting will run from 9 a.m. to noon in the school board conference room at 3600 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh.

— Tony Tata, himself once the subject of intense debate among Wake County school board members, will try to unite the fractious body during the next two days.

Wake's new superintendent will host a retreat with school board members today and Saturday.

Tata said they'll talk about how to build consensus while learning more about one another.

The board has been mired in debate since ditching Wake's socioeconomic diversity policy. Members have accused one another of not listening to their concerns and, at times, have engaged in name calling.

They have also bickered over the hiring of Tata, accreditation reviews - and even whether to hold consensus-building meetings. The board canceled two of them this month.

"I'm not saying that we'll agree on everything," Tata said. "My intention is to discuss with them the best practices for high-functioning boards."

Tata, who started work Jan. 31, said the retreat will offer members a chance to get to know him and one another better. He said the discussion will be focused more on communications and agreeing on a strategic vision, rather than on specific issues such as student assignment.

The Broad Superintendents Academy is paying for a facilitator to conduct the meetings, Tata said. Broad trains people who are not educators to work in urban school districts. Tata, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, is a graduate of the Broad program.

"What we're trying to do is build a more unified governance team," Tata said. "In my first two weeks, the school board has made some very good decisions. I have tremendous respect for them."

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

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