Does it make sense for the Wake County school system to hold a public hearing in a part of the district where students aren't being reassigned?
Wake County school staff had proposed holding a few public hearings on the new reassignment plan in northeastern Wake, where the bulk of the moves would occur.
But at last week's work session, school board members told staff to schedule at least one hearing outside that part of the county for families who might have other questions about the plan, such as how the base declaration period will work.
Laura Evans, senior director of growth and planning, presented this list of possible meeting dates to the board. It lists six dates but Evans said they don't need that many meetings. The list was developed to give a range of dates that could be used.
“I don’t think we need a lot of dates because we’re not coming to you with a lot of reassignment changes," Evans said.
In past years where reassignment plans have been countywide, Wake has held public hearings in different locations across the district. This year's plan is supposed to be tightly focused on drawing up base areas for the new schools in the northeastern Wake area.
The list includes Panther Creek High in Cary, but Evans said she didn't think it’s a good location for the people who are going to be affected by the proposal. She said she's stick with Sanderson High School and in board member Chris Malone's district.
Instead of using reassignment to reduce crowding outside northeast Wake, Evans said they'd recommend capping schools.
Board members began to question the lack of hearings in areas outside of northeastern Wake.
Board member Jim Martin said a hearing should be in central Wake, with board member Christine Kushner saying Sanderson High, which is on the list, is central. Martin was assured that there's public transportation that runs by Sanderson.
Board member Susan Evans argued that people would be interested in learning about other parts of the plan, not just the nodes being moved. She said the hearings could be used as informational sessions to explain things such as stay-where-you-start and the base declaration period.
“There’s more that we’re doing here than just reassigning a few nodes," said Susan Evans.
Martin said the meetings should be scattered around the county.
Board member Debra Goldman also advocated for holding meetings outside of the northeast Wake area. She said the moves would have a domino effect on other schools so she'd feel much more comfortable with a "bonafide opportunity" for people around the county to attend.
“I’d like to see an opportunity for all of our constituents to have the ability to come and address the board on these changes," Goldman said.
School board vice chairman Keith Sutton asked about having three regional informational meetings and three meetings in the areas being reassigned. Laura Evans said they weren't planning on having six meetings.
The board ultimately agreed on three meetings with two in North Raleigh/northeastern Wake and one regional hearing. The dates and locations were left up to staff and will be announced on Tuesday when the draft assignment plan is unveiled.
Goldman suggested holding the meetings on different days of the week.
Temporary Superintendent Stephen Gainey said he would prefer to hold the hearings in November but can roll into early December if needed.
All the meetings will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. In terms of the time allotted per speaker, it will be two minutes per person to get the maximum number of speakers.