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John Tedesco's model for holding schools academically accountable

Wake County school board member John Tedesco's proposal for overhauling underperforming schools in conjunction with the new student assignment drew skepticism last week from the board minority and their reps on the student assignment committee.

Tedesco unveiled last week the idea of expecting schools to have at least a 70 percent proficiency rate on state exams regardless of their populations. He said the solution to improving academic achievement is to educate the students instead of distributing them around.

"We have to make sure we can get every kid to read regardless of their background," Tedesco said.

Debating the elimination of base school assignments

Will the issue of whether to have base schools hold up adoption of a new student assignment model for the Wake County school system?

As noted in today's article, school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman said her support for a new plan is based on it having some form of guaranteed assignments. Goldman's position puts her at odds with school board member John Tedesco, who as chair of the student assignment committee is looking at a model that does away with base assignments.

With the majority holding only a 5-4 edge, Goldman's stand on the issue of base schools is important

Wake facing more than $1 billion in new school construction needs

The Wake County school board is facing a big price tag for new schools and calls to push up implementation of the new student assignment plan.

Administrators said today that Wake needs at least 33 new schools by 2020 to confront a projected 39,500 seat deficit. While no numbers were given today, that's at least $1 billion worth of school construction costs.

One thing to consider is that 33 school figure in based on new elementary and middle schools being on a year-round calendar. Costs would go up if built on a traditional calendar.

CORRECTED TO INDICATE THEY PROJECTED 33 NEW SCHOOLS AND ALL THE NEW ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS WOULD BE ON A YEAR-ROUND CALENDAR

Questioning whether the school system should provide clinical counseling

Is it the Wake County school system's job to provide clinical counseling services to parents or should it be done by Wake Human Services?

As noted in today's article, school administrators argue that clinical social workers and clinical psychologists are not part of the core mission of the school system. That's why they say they had asked the school board to contract with Human Services for parent counseling services rather than restoring the positions to Project Enlightenment.

“it’s not our core mission to provide clinical level counseling to parents,” said Marvin Connelly, assistant superintendent for student services. “That’s why we turned it over to the county.”

Committee to discuss ways to improve communication with public

The Wake County school board's community relations committee will discuss today online signup to speak at board meetings and other ways to improve communications with the public.

The board had agreed last week to allow for online registration at board meetings. The community relations committee will go over the details today before the new procedure is implemented in October.

Also today, the committee will discuss ways to share information with the public and to discuss proposed design changes to the school district's website.

Goldman's attempt to rescind design money fails

An effort to pull back design money to start up E-20, Scotts Ridge Elementary and M-8 died at today's Wake County school board meeting

The board had voted 6-2 last month to approve spending the design money, subject to the approval of the county commissioners. School board members Debra Goldman and John Tedesco had voted no because none of the sites were in Southeast Raleigh and the decisions were being made before the new community assignment zones were finalized.

A revote was added to the agenda today at Goldman's request. But her motion to rescind the prior vote died when no one seconded her.

UPDATE

Goldman said she asked for the motion to be rescinded because there's only enough money right now to build two of the schools. She said they could save $800,000 by dropping design work for one of the three schools.

Wake to end zero tolerance discipline policies

Here's quick review of what Wake County Superintendent Donna Hargens called an end to zero tolerance discipline policies in the district.

The district is working on a complete overhaul of discipline policies that would go into effect in January. Most offenses would now be subject to a short-term suspension with the ability for a principal to set a long-term suspension based on aggravation factors.

A few offenses, such as drug distribution, would remain long-term suspensions with the principal able to set a short-term suspension based on mitigating factors.

SEE UPDATE AND CORRECTION AT END OF POST

Giving school board members information electronically

Don't be surprised if you see Wake County school board members spending a lot of their time looking at their laptop computers during today's meeting.

School administrators have provided board members with electronic copies of their meeting information packets to go along with their normal printed copies. Instead of leafing through their binders, board members may be looking at the information on their laptop screens.

School board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman said she had asked staff to provide electronic copies of the documents as a way to "save trees." The printed packets are pretty thick.

School board to discuss discipline, athletic fields and designing new schools

Student discipline, watering of athletic fields and a revote on design work for three new schools are some of the items on Tuesday's Wake County school board agenda.

The board will have a second and final vote on changing policy so that long-term suspensions no longer automatically must run to the end of the school year. Also Tuesday, the board will vote on delegating authority to interim Superintendent Donna Hargens to commute long-term suspension recommendations to short-term suspensions and to reduce the length of individual long-term suspensions.

This delegation of power to Hargens is supposed to allow for an immediate impact on reducing the number and length of suspensions while a review of discipline policies takes place.

Debra Goldman on the budget and the board meeting changes

Wake County school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman is expressing her unhappiness with the new budget and her support for the changes in board meeting structure.

In a blog post Friday, Goldman writes that she voted against the revised budget adopted earlier this month because she didn't feel that her concerns were answered about the last-minute staff recommended changes. An example she cites is the proposed changes for Project Enlightenment.

"The Budget came up for a vote and I was the only Board member NOT to vote for it," Goldman writes. "There is a lot of work to do, and though it is described as a 'fluid document,' there is a tremendous amount that concerns me, on many topics."

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