Wake Ed

Wake County to approve eliminating high school valedictorians

Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy valedictorian Seth McGann speaks to his classmates during their graduation ceremony in Raleigh, N.C. on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. The Wake County school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on eliminating the naming of valedictorians after 2018.
Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy valedictorian Seth McGann speaks to his classmates during their graduation ceremony in Raleigh, N.C. on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. The Wake County school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on eliminating the naming of valedictorians after 2018. newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board will spend more time Tuesday talking about student assignment than valedictorians, but it’s the latter subject that will likely get the most attention locally and nationally.

The school board is scheduled to give final approval Tuesday to a policy change that will drop the naming of high school valedictorians and salutatorians and instead recognize seniors with Latin titles if they have a weighted grade-point average of at least 3.75. The change has gotten national coverage and attention, but is scheduled to be voted on as part of the routine business on the meeting’s consent agenda.

Unless a school board member asks for the item to be moved to the action agenda, there will be no scheduled discussion before the vote. The change would go into effect beginning in 2019.

Items on second and final reading are usually put on the consent agenda if there haven’t been changes made to the policy since the first reading.

Another item on the consent agenda gives final approval to policy changes that would give principals more flexibility to reduce both the number of out-of-school student suspensions and the number of days that students miss school.

Board members made brief comments at the May 17 meeting before the discipline policy changes were given initial approval. There was no discussion at that meeting when the board gave preliminary approval to dropping the use of valedictorians.

Board members will have more to say on student assignment today. During the work session, staff wants feedback from the board on how to develop the 2017-18 student assignment proposal, including how aggressively to move on trying to promote diverse school enrollments.

The feedback will be used as staff members work to get the first draft of the new enrollment plan ready for the Aug. 9 board work session.

Also at the work session, the board will hear staff’s reasons for rejecting Apex’s conditions for obtaining site-plan approval for the new Apex-Friendship Middle School. Staff says the town’s conditions will result in the use of school construction dollars for work that’s not on school property and won’t yield noticeable benefits to traffic flow.

The third topic at the work session is an update on how various school-related bills filed in the General Assembly could impact the district.

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