Wake Ed

Wake County schools gearing up for multi-year student assignment plan

The student assignment respite for thousands of Wake County families could be a brief one.

As noted in today’s article, school administrators say they’ve begun work on a multi-year assignment plan that would cover the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. This means that while there might not be any reassignments for the 2014-15 school year, the break could be short lived for lots of families.

Based on this possible timeline,a draft of the new assignment plan would go before school board advisory committees, apparently in the spring, for feedback. The drafts would be posted for community feedback on the district’s website.

In June, after one or two meetings with the board advisory committees, staff would present the most current draft to the public at community meetings around the county. Families of current students who would be impacted by the proposal would be notified by mail before the meetings are held.

The final plan would go to the school board in September. The board would adopt the plan in October after public hearings and work sessions.

The plan calls for filling 14 new schools so that means already a lot of families will be impacted. But it could grow a lot more because staff says it will also look at all the existing schools to see if they’re aligned with the student assignment policy’s pillars of student achievement, stability, proximity and operational efficiency.

The last multi-year plan adopted by the school board in 2009 called for moving 25,486 students over a three-year period.

There are a lot of questions about the new plan, including:

• Will the new plan affect as many students as the last multi-year plan?

• How much will diversity-related moves play a part after school board members have said they need to

focus more on achievement than assignment

to deal with high-poverty schools?

• Will the plan still include stay-where-you start? If yes, will it come with transportation?

• Will the new plan reduce the number of calendar mismatches between elementary and middle schools?

• Will all families who live within walking distance of a school now be able to attend?

In theory, the last multi-year plan was supposed to provide families more of a sense of stability and certainty knowing where they’d go for the next few years. In practice, knowing ahead of time got families agitated and helped impact the 2009 school board elections.