The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

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Impact of new student assignment plan on school poverty rates

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The newly adopted Wake County student reassignment plan could help produce some sharp changes this fall in the percentages of students receiving subsidized lunches at some schools.

This handout was presented by staff at Tuesday's school board meeting following a request by school board member Anne McLaurin. During the votes on the individual items, the Democrats often cited the changes in the F&R rates for them voting no.

For instance, the Walnut Creek feeder pattern moves are projected to increase Southeast Raleigh High's F&R rate from 40.2 percent this year to 50.3 percent this fall.

Walnut Creek Elementary is projected to open at 81.4 percent F&R. Schools sending students to Walnut Creek are projected to see drops in their low-income rates. For instance, Jeffreys Grove Elementary would drop from 40.3 percent F&R to 27.3 percent and Hilburn Elementary would fall from 48 percent to 41.8 percent.

Some other schools would see sharp drops as well. For instance, Davis Drive Elementary's F&R rate would fall from 18.9 percent to 6.2 percent. Davis Drive is sending 175 students to Combs, Reedy Creek and Smith elementary schools, all projected to see increases in the F&R rate.

Sycamore Creek Elementary is projected to see its F&R rate from 12.9 percent to 4.7 percent. The school is sending 128 students to Green Elementary, which is projected to see a boost in its F&R rate.

The board got the data at the last minute because F&R rates are no longer routinely included in the assignment plan since socioeconomic diversity was dropped from the student assignment policy last year. Growth and Planning had to ask Evaluation and Research to help them compile the numbers for Tuesday.


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Actually not true - Woodstock

If a school all of a sudden becomes a Title I school then Title I federal money goes to that school. It takes away money from other Title I schools. Wake county is allocated money based on the poverty rate (not F&R) of the couty based on US Census figures. This is also why F&R fraud is a big deal. 

Very, very interesting.

Very, very interesting. So, it appears fraudulent recipients dilute the resources that should go to legitimately qualified and deserving students. 

We hashed this out a couple of years ago

From 2008 WakeEd blog:


Here's a big picture on Title I:


Absolutely, and most Title I schools use the money throughout the school so non-F&R kids in those schools also reap the benefits. Title I schools actually have done pretty well in Wake and better than a lot of non-Title I schools in Wake.

Did you know if a Title I school wished they could fund after school tutoring programs if they wished?

whoa, blast from the

whoa, blast from the past....when I used to post under bigwinnie...and sad to see that nothing has changed with the fraud...if anything....it's worse.


and the kids are need the extra funds are bused OUT of Title I schools, so where is there any benefit to that?

the whole methodology stinks!

It may not be worse but

There are more legitimate cases from the poor economy..remember F&R is 180% of poverty level. 

In some cases a 60% F&R school is a good thing because in theory more F&R kids will get the benefits of that money. Sometimes the schools those children from Title I base areas are bused to lower performing non-Title I schools.

"...remember F&R is 180% of

"...remember F&R is 180% of poverty level. "

Well,  that is the official position; the reality is you apply and you are in. There is no verification or audit process... in fact, audits are prohibited.


'If you live around those schools that will be above 60% poverty and support this board please don't complain about your plummeting property values.'

So - people live in these neighborhoods, next to a brand new school.  Yet if the children are assigned to that school, it will cause plummeting property values, teachers won't want to teach there because of the high poverty level. and the kids will fail.

We had this discussion, but the thread is buried.  Why is it ok to label entire neighborhoods as bad, and if the kids go to school together they will fail.    The kids aren't stupid and know what you think of them.


"If you live around those schools that will be above 60% poverty and support this board please don't complain about your plummeting property values."

Considering the Board is attempting to assign based on proximity. if a school is above 60% poverty then the neighborhoods surrounding that school would be similar. What a shame that some people think their own neighbors would make their property values plummet.

My neighbors caused my property values to plummet

the day they moved in. Both sides. Then, when you add undesirable year round schools all around us, ouch, we're taking a real hit with resale. It's running about 50/50 with potential buyers who don't want the school calendar choice.

Or my neighbors!

Absolutely right on MYR schools

Property values started to suffer at Wakefield when it looked like our Elementary school was going year round, and that was before the housing bubble burst. Now you can buy nice homes for a song compared to what they were selling before the transition to YR. Higher dollar homes ($1M+) are selling at 40- 50% off. Medium high dollar homes ($600-$400K) are selling about 20-30% off their highs. That is above the average property price drop in Wake County. It's crazy and a lot of homes are sitting empty.

What year was that? 

What year was that?  Wakefield has a lot of empty homes because of over-zealous builders that went bankrupt because they overbuilt.  The roads to/from Wakefield were congested and they were competing with new neighborhoods much more easily accessible to RTP.  You cannot pin everything on the school calendar.


2007.  I'm not aware of any builder-owned homes in Wakefield or of any bankrupt builders who built in Wakefield.  There are a handful of sections with builder-owned lots, but none with builder-owned houses.

I don't know that it's possible to pin everything to the school calendar, but 2007 was a significant year for WES.  It went year-round, got a new principal and had a bunch of students reassigned both in and out.  In connection with the year-round schedule shift, some of the more senior teachers (the ones with school-aged kids) transferred to traditional-calendar schools.   And then some of the folks who were assigned to the year-round school opted to go to private schools.  As a result, the school's character changed dramatically.  In '02-'03, it was an honors school of excellence; this year, it's a school of progress.

Here's the point: we don't really know how to create a good school -- there have been lots of experiments, but if there were a solution, everybody would be doing it.  So, it seems prudent that when the stars align and you do happen to get a good school, you shouldn't mess with it.  WCPSS didn't learn that lesson, and WES is suffering the consequences.

"we don't really know how to create a good school -

there have been lots of experiments, but if there were a solution, everyone would be doing it."  Truer words have not been spoken.

2008 magnet parent

Those empty homes you are talking about are a couple of expensive new ones, and most of those builders are still in business. The vast majority of them were pre-owned that are empty now, those are the ones I talk about. I don't know where you got your information.  I think you are getting it confused with Hassentree. The roads to-from Wakefield aren't that bad except for a short time in rush hour and NC 98 connects Wakefield to RTP, they are building a new bridge and four laning Falls of Neuse this year that should make travel even better. I am not sure what new neighborhoods you are talking about  Wakefield is still building, especially on townhouses and apartments around the two new elementary schools. There is also a lot of new commercial/retail development in the area. When the whole MYR discussion started there were a huge amout of For Sale signs that when up there, that was before the real estate slowdown.  This is not an undesirable location, most of the people that live here love it. And a lot of people that upgrade stay in the PUD.  And there are all kinds of great mature plans for the near future like a couple of new parks, a regional library, and upscale shopping center.

Back in 2007 we were on a

Back in 2007 we were on a search for a new home and looked at alot of new homes that weren't quite finished by the builder.  The builder walked.  We saw plenty in the Wake Forest area but did not like the idea of fighting the traffic into Raleigh.  It was everywhere, not just in the northern part of the county.  I recall a news story done by WRAL that highlighted a bus-tour of foreclosed homes in that area.

The ones you are talking about - are you saying that people put their house up for sale and moved on leaving it empty - all over a calendar of a new school?  I find it hard to believe that they would move without selling their house, and take on the extra mortgage (or be foreclosed on), just because of the school calendar. 

I did not say it was an undesirable area... I am not putting down the area - it's an up-and-coming place - but it is not centrally located enough for families that may work in RTP, Raleigh, or even in counties south of Wake.  The high growth in Apex/Cary was their competition.  I think that is what hurt the real estate market there.  Of course, its just my opinion.


Cary/Apex and Brier Creek are all competition for Wakefield and it has its plusses and minuses.  A big plus is that the Sconces throw a great New Year's Eve party (a minus is that they never clean their lawn up afterwards, and nobody likes to see their neighbor's lawn littered with broken chia-pets, 1/2 used cans of body paint and moist towelettes....)

VoR is right -- Wakefield was substantially built out and sold off by the time the economy tanked.  There are a few empty lots here and there, but it really hasn't been "in development" for a good 5 years now.  

The year-round calendar isn't the only thing which has driven people out of the school, but it's certainly a significant part.  When a school district annoys families who have the means to take other alternatives, there's no surprise when they do so.  And, that's a terrible thing for the school they leave.  Thales Academy in WF is full of former Wakefield students.

Sounds like quite a party -

Sounds like quite a party - sorry I missed it!  Though, it leaves much to the imagination... You are best to stay in Wakefield - Cary does not allow chia pets ;-)

Wake Forest / Wakefield...I probably have them confused.  From where I'm sitting they are both "way out there".

I agree that the calendar can give families something to think about when deciding to move or change schools.  But it is not the only thing.  I prefer to look at the big picture than to focus on 1 absolute cause for a problem, that's all.

You are confusing Wake Forest and Wakefield

Wakefield is in Raleigh city limits for the most part, Wake Forest has much more traffic issues, I wouldn't like that either. Less than 30 min commute to RTP at rush hour. While the reason they are empty is not directly because of the school, the main reason is this area has a lot of corporate transfers. There are a lot of potential buyers that don't like the YR  schedule in the elementary with the middle and high school right next door having the traditional calendar.  The more homes staying on the market causes the prices to fall. So indirectly it is still the school. But what happened at the beginning with YR started this downfall and the economy never let it catch up.

BTW- I know at least three people that left because of the schools, there are a lot others that would like to move because of the elementary school but can't afford to. Several of those, including myself, went private. [I still have a child in the public system]

I feel sorry for your

I feel sorry for your neighbors.

And they feel sorry for people like you

And they feel sorry for people like you. Maybe you guys should get together and sing Kumbaya !

What exactly makes you think

What exactly makes you think your neighbors caused your property values to plummet?  Just curious why you would say that.

Ha, that's funny

But I'm not laughing. Or disclosing. Just going. If anyone wants a fair priced, decent box with windows and a few toilets, and lots of year round tracks to choose from with total uncertainty as to where your kids will go year after next, I got one.

Those are big selling points right now, let me tell you.

When you make a statement

When you make a statement like that without specifics, it could lead some to believe that it is about race. I doubt that it is.  I guess you just don't get along with them?

Anyways, I have enough toilets of my own thanks.

That's your mind going there

Nothing I said has a thing to do with FREAKING RACE! I have never said a word about race, because for me IT IS NOT AND WILL NEVER BE ABOUT THE COLOR OF SOMEONE'S SKIN!

Obviously some will never be able to say that!

The data has always been

The data has always been wrong. This is nothing new, it just happens to be the subject of this blog. Stick you head in the sand all you want, that won't change the facts.

Regardless of the data however, it makes no sense or provides no benefit to bus kids around simply based on how much money their parents claim to make.

Keung???, I'm confused as to

Keung???, I'm confused as to how this is reported and funded.  Mr. Tata asked Mr. Haydon how many students qualify and I would think the district would get reimbursed on the number of students eligible for free lunch at one $ amount and for reduced price at a differing dollar amount; yet Mr. Haydon indicated only the number of family applications processed at 30,000+.  Isn't the F&R captured in actual per student numbers somewhere? 

Tata got his facts mixed up,

Tata got his facts mixed up, which the staff tried to delicately explain to him. Tata was under the impression that every kid in Wake has a lunch application processed and then that determines who gets F&R. But Wake only takes applications from people who voluntarily request F&R and people referred from social service.

OK,(I'm still confused and

OK,(I'm still confused and you don't have to be delicate) the number still gets broken out into actual student numbers from the parental/DHS application to an actual per student number though doesn't it?  (One application for parent with 6 kids is different reimbursement-wise than 1 application for 1 child.)  There is a per student number for those that applied somewhere isn't there? 

Apparently DC processed apps

Apparently DC processed apps for every student.

Tata got a flash drive in January showing that around 40,000 applications have been processed, which he interpreted to be around 26 percent of the district's enrollment. He then pointed to the district F&R rate of 34 percent.

Tata thought that 74 percent of applications hadn't been processed yet so that Wake doesn't know what's the true F&R rate.

Staff explained to him that there aren't 100,000 applications haven't been processed. They said that the apps are for families not individual students. They also said that apps are only handled for people who request subsidized lunches or who are placed by social services.

I was looking for the

I was looking for the bottom-line F&R number for Wake for this year which I guess is 40,000+ (if only 1 child per application).  Most likely those eligible have more than 1 child so the actual number would be much higher since apps. are still being processed) which seems quite high in contrast to 143,000 students.  If 1/3 or more of our counties entire population meets this income threshold that results in the costs associated with busing at what statistical datapoint does the county determine it is not cost effective to bus anymore.

WCPSS Demographic site data

Total - 46,456 (not separated by Free vs Reduced)


F&R Rates will increase county wide

In a widely under-reported fact, the economy is still struggling and more people will be applying for reduced rate lunches for their children this year. WCPSS will do a full court press to enroll as many as they can. Reduced priced lunchs are available to people who make up to 180% of  poverty level income. In addition, many people apply for this program that don't really qualify for it since getting caught is like winning the lottery. even if you get caught, nobody has ever been prosecuted. The rate of fraud is high. [Hum - I bet somebody will ask me to prove it...so:http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/display_exclusive.html?id=5095] 

Wait, it came from a conservative leaning journal...IT MUST BE A LIE !!!



Now, that is quite interesting!

I had no idea that the feds will not allow a full audit of those seeking or already on FRL - then again, why would I be surprised!


From your link:


The summaries for the 2007-08 school year show that 76 out of 115 school districts had potential fraud rates at 50 percent or higher, and 19 districts had rates at 75 percent or higher. Only three districts — Currituck County Schools, Hyde County Schools, and Rutherford County Schools — had a perfect verification rate.

Less than 2 percent of applicants statewide had their benefits increased as a result of the verification, suggesting that families were more likely to understate than overstate their income on the forms.

Cumberland County Schools, New Hanover County Schools, and Northampton County Schools had the highest rates of reduced or repealed benefits at 89 percent each. The state’s three largest school districts had rates well over 50 percent — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, at 68 percent; Wake County Schools, at 64 percent; and Guilford County Schools, at 77 percent.

Full audit outlawed

Child nutrition officials say the percentages do not indicate widespread fraud because the sample is targeted and not random. After CJ reported on the issue, CMS school board members pushed for a full audit to see whether cheating is common among all enrolled families. The USDA, however, has threatened to cut off the district’s $34 million school lunch subsidy if CMS proceeds with a comprehensive verification.

A quick search found this

A quick search found this document (that sorta seems to apply but I am not sure). There is nothing in here that would prevent local authorities from conducting audits - in fact looks to me they want them to. Maybe CMS wanted the feds to pay for it?


§ 210.22 Audits.
(a) General. Unless otherwise exempt, audits at the State and school food au-
thority levels shall be conducted in accordance with Office of Management
and Budget Circular A–133 and the Department’s implementing regulations
at 7 CFR part 3052. For availability of the OMB Circular mentioned in this
paragraph, please refer to 5 CFR 1310.3.
(b)  Audit procedure.  These requirements call for organization-wide finan-
cial and compliance audits to ascertain whether financial operations are con-
ducted properly; financial statements are presented fairly; recipients and
subrecipients comply with the laws and regulations that affect the expendi-
tures of Federal funds; recipients and subrecipients have established proce-
dures to meet the objectives of federally assisted programs; and recipients
and subrecipients are providing accurate and reliable information con-
cerning grant funds. States and school food authorities shall use their own procedures to arrange for and prescribe the scope of independent audits, pro-
vided that such audits comply with the requirements set forth in 7 CFR part
[53 FR 29147, Aug. 2, 1988, as amended at 71
FR 39516, July 13, 2006]

The USDA has no desire to do this

There has never been a prosecution in the United States, the most they do is cut you off. I looked into this before the Carolina Journal did. There was even one school district that tried to audit higher percentage and was told to stop by the USDA. Free lunchs have more scrutiny and generally require the family to be on food stamps (or whatever they call it now). It is interesting that a lot of  the articles I came to my conclusions have been purged from google. I remember one school district (I believe in Nebraska) tried to do something about it and was given grief by the USDA. As a former federal employee, I can tell you that funding to the USDA is partially supported with a high use of this program.

As usual, follow the money

As usual, follow the money and you will be enlightened.


So, what's the incentive for someone to commit fraud in this program? They'll get what, maybe $300 worth of food per child per year? They can't get real money, that goes to someone else. Yes, nothing will happen if you cheat, but not much happens anyway that would make it worth cheating. On  top of that, your kids will be ostracized (as some otehr commenter mentioned) if they don't seem to be really poor. Who wants that for their children?

As for fraud audits - imagine you audit a family with 3 children, and the feds are paying their school something like $1000 per year. How much does the audit cost? It's easy to see that audits would almost never be cost-effective even if almost every target is guilty and they have a 100% success rate. Would you pay for that?


You also have to consider whether increasing the audit rate would discourage fraud to begin with.  Lots of people don't cheat on their taxes (or don't seriously cheat) because they're concerned about an IRS audit.

People do it anyway

Some people look at it like a tax refund. Actually I don't care as much about the money as I do what is does to the school calculations for things like Title I funding. The truth be known, I think the majority of F&R's are on the SNAP program and get free lunch. That why I think the free lunch figures rae the way to go. They mean more.

How Dare You Use Logic

.....to spoil a perfectly good conspiracy theory.

So it is either...

the school system itself or the companies that supply the school system are not interested in the audits. Assuming,of course, that the kids themselves are not getting rich off of this.

No, the audits just cost more than they could possibly save

When you're paying out money a few hundred dollars at a time, audits almost never pay for themselves.

Of course the agencies

Of course the agencies involved are not interested in the audits, they enjoy sopping up the gravy; but the taxpayers deserve it don't you think? But the bigger point is that significant system-wide decisions are being made based on the so-called "data" that are totally unrelated to a lunch program. It is a really bizarre and unacceptable situation.

Why would they?, it's the Feds responsibility

School systems make money off of it, it adds money to the local economy (from the federal gov), the feds discourage the expanded audits, and even if they wanted expanded audits we have to pay for the extra work locally. There is no incentive at a local level. The only way to correct this is to cut the USDA budget and/or put pressure on Congress to put pressure for expanded audits (even if they did, the Dems would not let it get out the Senate).

If WCPSS wants to use poverty balancing in schools, I would suggest using the count of students whose families are being helped by SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], they are the bulk of the Free Lunch students and the program requires more documentation to get it. F&R will still be in the mix for Title I school funding by law though.

The F&R rates are based on

The F&R rates are based on self-reported data which at a minimum is a very inaccurate portrayal of poverty and it is enormously fraudulent. Until that data is verified, I think it is completely irresponsible to report percentages as they are completely imaginary figures.

Additionally, poverty itself is not a factor in student performance, it is the behavior that leads to poverty that is the issue. Solutions will come when that behavior is addressed. Regardless of what The Who says, there is no magic bus.

Woodstock and Deborah Prickett

Woodstock, you and Mrs. Prickett sure harp on the great "fraud" involved with F&R reporting an awful lot.



"Harp" or shine a light on it? Either way, it is a fact that it seems you and others would prefer to ignore... while you attack the messenger. If you can't dispute it, just say so.

Free for all

Offer free breakfast and lunch for all - elimination of administrative costs, remove the stigma, no more tracking - the F&R statistic just dies. 

I just saw an article about

I just saw an article about a school system doing this....Chicago, maybe?  free breakfast for all I believe it was. 

Didn't Tata do something

Didn't Tata do something like this in DC?  Maybe it was a free dinner program?  I can't find the article now, but I read it when I researched him online. 

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.