Wake School Board to Hold Public Hearing on Student Assignment Plan

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What do you want for your child from public schooling? A diverse school body? High academic standards? A school close to home? School choice? All of the above? How do we get from here to there, and which goals will take precedence over others is the question foremost in the minds of parents with school-aged kids in Wake County, where the debate between diversity and “neighborhood” schools has grown contentious over the past two years.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, Wake County Public School System Superintendent Tony Tata presented a draft student assignment plan to the Board of Education. Wake County parents now have a chance to voice their opinion of the plan at a public hearing at 5 p.m., Oct. 13, at Broughton High School.

If you’d like to speak at the Oct. 13 meeting, you’ll need to sign up online at www.wcpss.net, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, or at the door from 4 to 4:50 p.m. on the day of the hearing. Speakers will have two minutes each for their comments.

After that meeting, change is expected to come quickly, with a vote on adopting the proposal set for Oct. 18, according to a timeline released by Tata on Friday. The new plan lets families choose from a list of schools, most of which are closest to where they live rather than being assigned to a “base” school based on their address, as is current practice.

If approved by the board, the plan would go into effect for the 2012-2013 school year. Critics argue that changes are coming too quickly, leaving them little time to assess what they mean, but in presenting the timeline, Tata noted that the seven months of work spent on the plan by the Student Assignment Task Force were nearly four times more than the time taken by a previous superintendent in introducing and getting approved 28 relatively unproven magnet programs to Wake County schools.

“We believe our plan is equally visionary and has undergone substantial rigor,” he said in a statement.

Parents will also have a chance to determine the direction that schools take by voting on Oct. 11 for candidates for the Wake County school board, where five of the nine seats are up for grabs, and where their views on diversity in schools run the gamut.

This article was updated Oct. 5.?

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