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Amy Lee appointed to Wake County school board advisory council

Amy Lee, one of the most outspoken members of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, was appointed to a Wake County school board advisory council on Tuesday.

Lee, a North Raleigh magnet school parent, was appointed to school board vice chairman Keith Sutton's District 4 BAC. She's listed as the representative from Hunter Elementary School and also is a parent at Ligon Middle School.

Lee has provided some of the most memorable GSIW comments at school board meetings and other venues over the past few years. Here are some of them:

Wake County school system touts $900,000 in possible fuel savings

Amid the less than good news that's marked school transportation for much of the school year, Wake County school administrators are touting they've saved $900,000 in fuel costs.

In a press release today, Wake points to the decision over the summer to buy 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel — roughly a six-month supply — at $2.82 per gallon. Wake had originally budgeted to use three million gallons for the 2012-13 fiscal year at $3.30 per gallon, a cost of $9.9 million.

In contrast, most school districts use the state contract fuel price, which is now at $3.40 per gallon. Wake is saying that buying at the $2.82 per gallon price could result in more than $900,000 in savings for the district.

Wake County families to get one year "respite" before potentially big reassignment changes in 2014

You can take a glass is half empty or half full view of Wake County student assignment in the short term.

As noted in today's article, the good news for families in the immediate future is that the 2013-14 plan is expected to have relatively few reassignments. But it's very much a transitional plan with a new plan to be developed for the 2014-15 school year that's likely to include a lot more reassignments for things such as promoting balance in student achievement and socioeconomic diversity.

"We were looking at trying to give the staff and the parents a respite so we could have the larger discussion that it seems like we’re trying to have right now, that we could have the larger discussion to put together a sustainable assignment plan," said board chairman Kevin Hill.

1350468064 Wake County families to get one year "respite" before potentially big reassignment changes in 2014 The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NC SPIN on the firing of Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata

The firing of Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata got some air time at the end of the latest edition of NC SPIN that aired over the weekend.

On the show, pundits from the left and right agreed that it was not a politically good decision for the Democratic school board majority to have fired Tata at this time. Panelists also talked about whether the next permanent superintended should be a lifelong educator.

Tom Campbell, the show host, opened the segment by saying that following Wake County schools has been like "watching a yo-yo." Campbell asked John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, what he thought of Tata's firing, which he said "was ugly" and "many say it wasn't handled well."

Wake County school board chairman Kevin Hill talks about the firing of Superintendent Tony Tata

Wake County school board chairman Kevin Hill is continuing his efforts to justify the board majority's firing of Superintendent Tony Tata.

As noted in today's article, Hill met Friday with N&O editors and reporters to list out issues such as concerns about Tata's relationship with board members and staff and his handling of taxpayer dollars. Some of it's similar to what he said at Tuesday's board meeting but he went into more detail.

Hill also went into how he wants to handle the superintendent's search and the timing of the next school bond issue.

UPDATE

Click here to view the letter to the editor from Kevin Hill that will appear in Tuesday's paper in response to Tata's point of view column.

1349749612 Wake County school board chairman Kevin Hill talks about the firing of Superintendent Tony Tata The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wake County school system announces new Transportation Customer Service Center

The Wake County school system announced this morning that a new centralized Transportation Customer Service Center has been established to handle phone calls about bus issues.

Calls that were previously made to the 15 individual transportation districts will now automatically be forwarded to the new central center, which can be reached at (919) 856-7890. A live rep will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays with people being able to leave a voice mail with their contact info afterhours.

Wake says the new center means customer service reps "will be better equipped to provide timely information on mechanical failures and other delays, and to contribute to more timely resolution of transportation-related issues."  Wake also says the new center will have "significantly increased voice mail capacity," a nod to how parents encountered full mailboxes when they called about their problems during the first month of school.

Superintendent Tony Tata has taken over the job of overseeing transportation since Don Haydon resigned last week as chief of facilities and operations.

Wake County Commissioner Phil Matthews urging supporters of Superintendent Tony Tata to show up at Monday's school board meeting

Wake County Commissioner Phil Matthews is urging people to show up at Monday's school board meeting to rally behind Superintendent Tony Tata.

"Attention Everyone!!" Matthews posted today on his Facebook page. "Rumor is the new liberal school board members are going to try to terminate Superintendent Tony Tata on Monday at their 12:30 at a closed session! They are using a lame excuse about buses to get rid of him. Everyone needs to show up at the meeting in Cary to show their support.

He is a good friend, and is doing an outstanding job. I will take his firing personally so I am now "on record"!! Pass this on to everyone you know and contact your school board members to show your concern!"

1348345611 Wake County Commissioner Phil Matthews urging supporters of Superintendent Tony Tata to show up at Monday's school board meeting The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

GSIW members accuse Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata of scapegoating bus problems on Don Haydon

Members of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition accused Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata of scapegoating Don Haydon for the bus problems and said he's the one who should be relieved of his duties.

During the public comment session at Tuesday's school board meeting in which speakers were repeatedly warned not to discuss specific personnel, several GSIW members lamented the senior staff who've left Wake since Tata became superintendent.

Lynn Edmonds complained about Wake's longtime staff being replaced by people with no experience working in school systems. who come from the "free market or the corporate world," or being graduates from the Broad Superintendents Academy.

1348232466 GSIW members accuse Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata of scapegoating bus problems on Don Haydon The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wake County school board to discuss bonus pay for bus drivers and Panther Creek High's ninth-grade center

In addition to student assignment, the Wake County school board will get an update today on the status of a ninth-grade center for Panther Creek High and vote on a plan to give bonuses to bus drivers who show up for work.

Wake says it's having a problem getting bus drivers for all the 40+ buses that had been sidelined at the start of the school year but brought back following the bus complaints. Staff will present this proposal to pay drivers a $250 bonus for their good attendance between Sept. 20 and Nov. 27.

During the work session, the board will hear the latest on the search for a ninth-grade center for Panther Creek High.

Don Haydon has been scheduled to present both items before he resigned Monday as chief of facilities and operations.

UPDATE

Staff explained today that by the end of November they expect to have hired enough permanent drivers to cover all the additional buses. But until then, they said the bonuses could encourage more of the current drivers to come in so they don't have to do as often things like asking mechanics to work overtime to drive.

If successful, the bonus plan could be brought back.

The board approved the bonus plan.

1348018672 Wake County school board to discuss bonus pay for bus drivers and Panther Creek High's ninth-grade center The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Don Haydon resigns amid Wake County school bus problems

Don Haydon looks to be one of the first casualties of Wake County's school bus problems.

School officials announced today that Haydon had "elected to resign" as chief facilities and operations officer. Haydon will be on paid leave from Tuesday through his Dec. 31 resignation date.

Transportation reports directly to Haydon.

UPDATE

Click here for the online story.

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