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Tony Tata says student assignment vote needed Tuesday

The upshot of today's press conference is that Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata says he still believes the school board should adopt the student assignment plan on Tuesday.

Tata said staff needs the plan approved next week because, with all the holidays coming up, they'll have a tight timeframe for getting it implemented in the 2012-13 school year. He pointed to the development of software, training of staff and community outreach that will be needed before the magnet application period starts in December and the non-magnet application period begins in January.

"We’re positioned for Tuesday,” Tata said. “We’ve done a lot of hard work. It’s time to bring this forward for a vote.”

As to delaying the vote until the new board takes office, Tata said it would be "insulting" to the outgoing board members to tell them they can't do their job now before their terms end.

UPDATE

Click here for the online story.

Greater Raleigh Chamber and WEP say don't delay adoption of student assignment plan

Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata and the school board are getting support from the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership to vote on the student assignment plan on Tuesday.

In an op-ed piece today, leaders of both groups say the plan will empower parents, produce stability, create a culture of competition, efficiently use facilities and create a natural diversity. While the plan isn't perfect, they say it's  "a logical blueprint for moving beyond the divisive issue of reassignment."

"Delaying a decision at this point would only prolong the corrosive debate and further distract from pressing classroom issues and needed discussions about how to handle future enrollment growth," according to the piece written by Jim Brown, chair of Wake Education Partnership's board of directors and Jim Beck, chair of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Speakers raise concerns about new student assignment plan

Most of the 28 speakers at Thursday's public hearing wanted the Wake County school board to make changes and/or delay a vote on adoption of the new student assignment plan.

As noted in today's article, several speakers referenced Tuesday's election results that brought in three new school board members and could result in a new Democratic majority taking office Dec. 6. Speakers asked for a delay until November or December.

"If the board is willing to wait one month until after we see what the results of the next election are, Mr. Hill’s seat, I believe that the board will begin to come together in a much more dignified way and that the decision that is made will reflect the will of the entire community and not just a narrow majority," said the Rev. Tom Rhodes.

Ron Margiotta on why he lost his re-election bid

Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta is blaming voter complacency for his election loss while also calling for people to rally around Heather Losurdo in her runoff contest.

In an interview Wednesday with conservative talk show host Bill LuMaye on WPTF, Margiotta said they just weren't able to turn out their voters on Tuesday. He pointed to the efforts by the Wake County Democratic Party to spend $85,000 on get-out-to-vote efforts for the school board races and the money spent by the outside groups such as Common Sense Matters to attack him.

"Our voters were extremely complacent," Margiotta said. "They felt they didn't have to come out because Margiotta was going to win and I think that's what it tended to boil down to. Our voters didn't come out feeling that they were pretty much satisfied with what was going on. "

Questioning whether the school board should vote on the assignment plan Tuesday

Should the Wake County school board hold off on adopting the new student assignment plan on Tuesday?

As noted in today's article, the recent election results could mean a new Democratic majority would take office Dec. 6 whose members have raised concerns about the details of the current plan. If Republicans still maintain control, four new members would take office in less than two months.

School board vice chairman John Tedesco said he, board chairman Ron Margiotta and Superintendent Tony Tata agreed Wednesday to leave the vote on the plan on the Oct. 18 agenda. Tedesco said they need to follow Tata's timetable to have it ready for implementation in the 2012-13 school year.

Bob Geary on whether school board elections will fill a "huge hole" in student assignment plan

Bob Geary is pitching today's Wake County school board elections as "a question of whether Wake will blunder into a set of high-poverty, low-achieving schools ... or avoid that fate."

In an online post today for the liberal Independent weekly, Geary writes that there's a "huge hole" in the new student assignment plan when it comes to promoting equity/diversity. The problem, Geary writes, is that the student achievement pillar is too weak to prevent the creation of high-poverty and low-achieving schools.

"If the Republicans hold or expand their 5-4 majority in today's elections, Tata's plan will continue to have a hole in it, because Republican School Board Chair Ron Margiotta & Co. want that hole to remain," Geary writes.

If, however, Margiotta falls in the District 8 race against challenger Susan Evans, and if that results in a 5-4 majority against the Republicans (meaning that incumbent Kevin Hill survives his challenge in District 3 from Republican Heather Losurdo), then the hole in Tata's plan can be filled by a new board — as Tata, if I understand him correctly, wants it to be filled."

1349297975 Bob Geary on whether school board elections will fill a "huge hole" in student assignment plan The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New flier claims Democratic school board candidates would get rid of Tony Tata

The mysterious Rino Hunter is back with a new anonymous flier attacking the five Democratic-backed Wake County school board candidates and linking them to the Rev. William Barber.

Rino Hunter has set up a Facebook group called "SAVE Superintendent Tata & our Schools" in which she posts a flier charging that the Democratic candidates "want him (Tata) gone." Rino Hunter quips at the bottom of the flier that she spent less than $1,000.

Rino Hunter's line is based on how the State Board of Elections is investigating a prior flier she posted that said people shouldn't vote for the Democratic candidates. Elections officials have been looking into whether that flier may have cost at least $1,000 and should have been reported as a campaign expenditure.

One of the Democratic candidates, incumbent school board member Kevin Hill, recently told me in an interview that there's been no talk about replacing Tata if the majority changes. While Hill didn't vote for him when he was hired and feels that Tata should be more inclusive when he deals with board members, the former board chairman said the new superintendent is "a stand-up guy."

Ron Margiotta on "the choice couldn't be more clear" between him and Susan Evans

Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta goes hard after opponent Susan Evans in this campaign mailer hitting mailboxes today in which he says the "choice couldn't be more clear."

Margiotta does a compare and contrast box with Evans on neighborhood schools, parental choice, leadership and taxes. For instance, Margiotta says he voted to end busing for socioeconomic diversity and supports allowing children to attend schools in their communities while saying Evans is opposed to ending busing for diversity and is opposed to neighborhood schools.

Margiotta also accuses Evans of actively opposing ending mandatory school assignments, opposing hiring Tony Tata to be superintendent and says she "has called for raising over $1.3 billion in new state taxes." That charge comes from Evans having signed this online petition to keep the one-cent sales tax.

Margiotta also acknowledges the series of attack mailers from outside groups, saying "don't be fooled, Susan Evans is supported by Rev. William Barber and radical liberal activist groups sending out negative and misleading mailings."

Tony Tata accusing Jim Martin of making inaccurate statements about him

Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata publicly called out school board candidate Jim Martin today, accusing him of sending out an inaccurate press release.

Click here for the online story. Basically, Tata criticized this press release from Martin about the Enloe High Key Club investigation. Tata also says Martin had omitted some of his responses in this e-mail stream that the candidate had released.

“I’m setting the record straight,” Tata said. “He put out an inaccurate press release. I asked him to correct it. He refused. He put out, the only way to call it,  an e-mail string that had emails removed from it. A reasonable person could assume that was intended to create a false impression."

UPDATE

I got Martin's response to Tata's remarks:

"I choose not to debate this issue in the news," Martin said in an e-mail message.

I should have also included this earlier from Martin. This is what Martin says he told Tata before today's press conference:

"I am very sorry for this misunderstanding between us. I welcome the opportunity to sit down together and resolve the matter."

See the end of the post for a series of pretty blunt e-mail messages between Tata and Martin that I received following a public records request. The update includes the messages that Tata says were omitted and the exchanges between the two in which Tata asks Martin for him to correct his press release.

Ron Margiotta on how he's laying "a foundation for better Wake County Schools"

Here's the recent campaign mailer from Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta that Progress NC Action is so upset about.

The photo of Margiotta with Superintendent Tony Tata is in a section of the mailer called "making the right decisions," where he touts having hired the retired general to lead the district. It's part of a section labeled "A Foundation for Better Wake County Schools."

Other elements of the foundation listed in the mailer include Margiotta's support for neighborhood schools, how he "has led efforts to restore parental choice as a guiding principle for Wake County Schools" and how "the Board is preparing to adopt a student assignment plan which embraces stability for our students and families."

"As an effective Board member and Chairman, my focus remains on teaching and learning in the classroom," Margiotta says in the mailer. "I have worked to ensure that each policy decision is in the best interest of our students with a keen eye on fiscal responsibility."

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