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WSCA endorses Ron Margiotta for school board

This should end any speculation about who the Wake Schools Community Alliance will endorse for the District 8 seat on the Wake County school board.

In a Tuesday night press release, WSCA announced it was backing school board chairman Ron Margiotta in his re-election bid. This comes after there has been some speculation whether WSCA would, like in District 3, back someone not being endorsed by the Wake County Republican Party.

The press release touts how "some notable progress has been made toward the goals of WSCA and stakeholders across Wake County" since 2009, including:

Cynthia Matson announces school board candidacy

Here's a blast from the past today with Cynthia Matson's announcement that she will run for the District 5 seat on the Wake County school board.

For you newcomers, Matson founded Assignment By Choice, the grand daddy for groups like Wake CARES and the Wake Schools Community Alliance. During the middle part of the last decade, ABC criticized Wake's assignment policy and the use of mandatory year-round schools.

"ABC was the original catalyst for the school reform movement in Wake County which united parents and increased public awareness on issues facing our school system," Matson says in her campaign announcement.


Using bond savings for school construction projects

With no firm date set for the next bond issue, Wake County school administrators want to use their savings to get a head start on some construction projects.

As noted in today's article, administrators want to use most of the $91.3 million in savings from the 2006 bond issue to add more high school seats. But the money could also be used to get work done on the long-discussed middle school near Leesville Church and Strickland roads in northwest Raleigh.

Click here for a handout of the presentation that staff gave the school board last week.

Waiting for state Board of Education guidance on waivers

Wake County parents and school officials could have a better handle on Friday on whether school will be extended by 10 minutes a day this fall and whether a state waiver will be granted.

As noted in today's article, the state Board of Education will hold a conference call meeting at 11:30 a.m. Friday to discuss how to handle waivers and implementation o the new 185-day school calendar for 2011-12. You can go to to access the link for this meeting.

While no decisions are expected to be made on individual waivers on Friday, the meeting should tell districts what parameters would be followed for granting requests.

Wake hoping to get waiver without adding in the additional time

It may be possible for Wake County schools to get its state waiver without having to add in the 10 extra minutes each day into the 2011-12 school year.

The Wake school board voted tonight to tack 10 minutes to the end of the day for all schools as part of the waiver request to the State Baord of Education. But Chief Academic officer Donna Hargens said that they're hoping the State Board will say the extra time isn't need to get a waiver.

Wake isn't sure how the state Board will handle requests from districts who want waivers from the new requirement that the school year be extended by five days and that 25 more instructional hours be added as well.

Wake not planning to convert any year-round schools in 2012-13

Don't look for any Wake County year-round schools to be converted to a traditional calendar for the 2012-13 school year.

During a discussion today about Wake's building needs, Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Don Haydon said they're working under the assumption that all current year-round schools would stay on that calendar in 2012-13.

School board chairman Ron Margiotta asked Superintendent Tony Tata if that's also the assumption he's working on and he answered yes. There was some talk in the blue and green plans about converting some year-round schools.

I'll get into the discussion of Wake's building needs in a later post but for now staff says Wake is facing some looming seat shortfalls.

Modifying the 2011-12 bell schedules

Here's how Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata plans to avoid having to extend the school year by five days.

Tata will ask the school board tomorrow to modify the 2011-12 bell schedules to add 10 minutes into the school day. Every school would start five minutes earlier and end five minutes later as part of a plan to add 25 hours of instructional time.

The revised bell schedule would then be submitted to the State Board of Education as part of a request asking for a waiver from the new requirement that schools add five more days into the school year.

Discussing the blue plan

The discussion of the blue plan being used for Wake County school assignment also got detailed Monday.

Once again, start with this handout. Let's start with the clarifications.

One, everyone who is already in a school for 2011-12 gets to stay there in 2012-13 and through completion of that grade span if that's what they want, even if it's not on their "list" of choices. (Grandfathering is also provided in the green plan but some people were concerned about the blue plan more because you're more likely to see changes in choices.)

New magnet schools and a new magnet school director

The Wake County school system will need a new person to help the school board decide on the future of the magnet school program.

David Ansbacher, senior director of magnet school programs, will be leaving to become a principal in Singapore. Since March, he has been a member of the student assignment task force.

Ansbacher's successor will have a myriad of issues to deal with, including recommending which three schools get magnet programs for the 2012-13 school year.

Poll on Wake County schools leads to state fine

There's been some fallout from a December 2009 poll on the Wake County school system that was conducted on behalf of the conservative Civitas Institute.

Facing South, the online magazine of the liberal Institute for Southern Studies, is reporting today that the Georgia pollster hired by Civitas has been fined $10,000 by the state. The pollster got in trouble for not identifying itself during the robocalls.

The problem for the firm, Rosetta Stone Communications, is that one of the people it called was Sue Sturgis, an editor for the magazine. She filed a complaint with the N.C. Department of Justice that led to the fine.

The poll, conducted shortly after the new board majority had taken office, had found opposition to mandatory year-round schools and the diversity policy.

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