Wake to post school address assignment info

khui@newsobserver.comSeptember 20, 2012 

Wake County families should be able to go online beginning Friday afternoon to see what their possible school assignments will be for the 2013-14 school year.

School board chairman Kevin Hill gave the approval Thursday for school administrators to release information that would allow people to search the schools for each address under the draft student assignment plan for next year. Cris Mulder, a Wake schools spokeswoman, said staff members are finalizing the data and expect to have the information ready at the district’s website, www.wcpss.net, on Friday afternoon.

It’s expected that many families of the more than 150,000 students in the district will want to look up the information.

The decision came after a heated argument at Tuesday’s school board meeting about whether it’s premature to release the information. Hill said that he had no problem with releasing the information now but that parents should realize that the draft assignments could change by the time the board adopts the final plan.

“What parents and the media have to understand is this is in draft stage,” Hill said Thursday.

While the address lookup feature is going live, the proposed attendance maps for each school aren’t being released yet. School officials say the maps will be released after the board reviews them at an upcoming work session.

The three new Democratic school board members who were elected last fall said Tuesday that they want the opportunity to view the maps before they’re released to the public. They also argued that what they need, for now, is public comment on the concepts in the plan and not on the individual assignments.

“If we just issue the attendance maps right off the bat, we’ll get lost in the minute detail of who likes their specific assignment and who doesn’t,” said board member Susan Evans on Tuesday.

But all four Republican board members argued for releasing the information as soon as possible.

“It’s a wise choice,” board member Chris Malone said Thursday of Hill’s decision. “People want to know what’s going on.”

On Tuesday, school administrators released a plan that returns to tying each address to a specific school to provide families some sense of certainty of which school they’ll be attending. Real estate agents had also complained that the choice plan being used this school year makes it difficult to assure potential buyers that they will get a desirable school.

The new assignment plan lets students stay at their current school. Students will keep their current bus service unless they are assigned to two new schools opening next year – Abbotts Creek Elementary in North Raleigh and Rolesville High – and choose not to attend.

Based on a directive passed in June by the Democratic board majority, the new plan is built on the principles of student achievement, stability and proximity.

On Tuesday, some board members said components such as the student achievement portion – designed to try to keep schools from having too many low-performing students – weren’t fleshed-out enough. As a result, the board agreed to postpone the five public hearings that were set to begin next week.

A board attorney also advised members that policy changes would have to be passed before the plan could be adopted. It’s making it less likely that the board will be able to make the proposed Oct. 30 deadline for adopting the plan.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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