Wake County school board members said Tuesday that they can only bus students so far to raise schools’ achievement, meanwhile voicing support for a new model that would put more resources into struggling schools.
Several board members said it would be inefficient to use long-distance busing to balance schools by student achievement and demographics. Administrators are weighing how much to use busing in a new assignment plan.
While no vote was taken Tuesday, board members said they agree both with providing more programs to schools and using assignment when reasonable.
“I want to be clear that I don’t want us to completely shy away from using student assignment as a tool where we can to balance some populations in some schools,” school board member Susan Evans said. “While I certainly agree it’s not effective, efficient or reasonable to bus kids from one side of the county to the other, if there are smaller adjustments and reasonable distances, I think we certainly want to take it into consideration.”
Administrators are working on a plan for the 2015-16 school year that the board will vote on later this year. The plan will be based on the four elements of the assignment policy: proximity, stability, student achievement and keeping schools from being too full or too empty.
The former Republican-backed board majority dropped balancing schools by income from the assignment policy in 2010. The Democratic-backed board majority that took office in 2011 restored diversity as a factor in the assignment policy, but hasn’t yet put in place an assignment plan based on the new approach.
“I don’t think busing, for several reasons, is the option,” school board member Monika Johnson Hostler said. “Efficiency being at the top of the list, but also the fact that these are families, and oftentimes, we have to take into consideration that the families are feeling disenfranchised.”