Midtown Raleigh News

November 5, 2013

Wake County school officials won’t recommend reassignments for next year

Wake County school leaders say there’s no need to move students to different schools next year because there are no new schools they need to populate.

Wake County families could get a break from the prospect of their children being moved to a different school next year.

School administrators will recommend at Tuesday’s school board meeting that no changes be made in student assignment for the 2014-15 school year. Instead of reassignment, school officials will look to other ways such as using classroom trailers to deal with crowding next school year.

“There will be no assignment changes,” school board Chairman Keith Sutton said.

Reassignment has been one of the most contentious issues in the fast-growing school system, which is the largest in the state, with more than 153,000 students. In past years, more than 10,000 students were reassigned annually to fill new schools, ease crowding at existing schools and promote diverse student enrollments.

Anger over reassignments has led to changes in the district’s assignment policy, including putting stability and proximity as priorities. In the past few years, the board has also adopted a stay-where-you-start policy, in which students whose neighborhoods are reassigned are guaranteed the right to stay at the school they’re already attending.

Superintendent Jim Merrill said that as administrators reviewed the 2014-15 assignment plan, their goal was to move as few students as possible.

Sutton said there’s no need for reassignments because only one new school is opening next year – a high school that will focus on teaching job skills and will be filled only by students who apply.

“I think parents will enjoy having stability,” Sutton said.

Families who don’t like their assignment for next year can request a transfer, Sutton said. This way, changes will only affect the individual family as opposed to moving everyone who lives in that immediate area.

Sutton said the opening of new schools will be the driver of future assignment plans. Voters approved last month an $810 million school construction bond issue that includes funding for 16 new schools over the next five years.

Some critics of the school board had charged that it would wait until after the bond issue passed to spring a major reassignment plan for next year.

“I guess those people were wrong,” Sutton said. “They didn’t have any facts.”

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