Wake school board puts off assignment changes, promises harder look

Wake County board will wait until May to make modifications for the coming term

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comApril 24, 2012 

  • Thursday: Families who participated in Round 2 of the school selection process can go to assignment.wcpss.net/results to check their results. Families who didn’t get an assignment after Round 1, or who were on a waiting list after Round 1, also can go online to check their statuses. May 1 to June 30: Newcomers to the school system who haven’t registered yet can go online to rank the schools they want to attend for this fall. May 15: Families of enrolled students, including those entering kindergarten for this fall, will receive a notice with their official 2012-13 school assignments. May 15 to June 1: Families can file transfer requests to change their fall assignments.

— khui@newsobserver.com

Wake County school board members – some projecting substantive changes for the 2013-14 year – agreed to put off until next week any modification of the still-shifting student assignment plan for the coming term.

Tuesday’s board meeting followed heated statements by opponents of the choice-based plan, who protested it outside and inside system headquarters. During a break, some Democratic members said they haven’t gotten enough data to amend the plan for students starting school as early as July, but vowed to work on further changes.

A new approach could merge aspects of the new choice plan and the previous, address-based approach, board member Christine Kushner said.

“I want to explore a hybrid model, some residence-based assignment with expanded choice,” Kushner said.

Said Kushner’s fellow Democrat Susan Evans, “The families seem quite frustrated at being in limbo for quite a long time. The main thing I want to know is, how is the plan working for the people who entered the choice process?”

Chief transformation officer Judy Peppler said the staff plans to survey parents’ reaction between May 15 and June 15. Moving further discussion of the plan until next week will allow for a more “robust” discussion using data from the second round, Peppler said.

Wake schools Superintendent Tony Tata said the plan has worked well for many families.

“There’ve been a lot of success stories,” Tata said. “Of course, we’ve got some parents who are anxious right now. We are trying to work through this.”

Parents who took part in the second round of the choice-based plan will learn Thursday where their children will attend school. The system still faced unresolved questions Tuesday, including whether to open Abbotts Creek Elementary, an underenrolled school that few families chose.

Staff said Tuesday they probably will recommend that Abbotts Creek, where classes were planned in mobile classrooms, not open until the 2013-14 year.

“The consequences of this plan were not thought through,” Beth Graff, a Cary parent, said during a public comment period. “Don’t tell me I have five choices when only one of the schools has any capacity.”

Some don’t know whether their children will have transportation next year, school board member Jim Martin said.

“What commitment can we offer them? Wait and see?” Martin asked Peppler.

A group of parents and children, many from Western Wake, asked for a return to an address-based system. That message came from those chanting at an outside protest that drew about 50 people. And during the meeting, Apex parent Karen Meier said her family likely wouldn’t have moved to Wake County had they known the plan’s details.

“In an area where you have highly educated people, … those people moving into this area are going to want to know where their kids are going to school and what kind of education they are going to get,” Meier said.

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

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