The Wake County school board will have to weigh the pros and cons of going with a small number of large community assignment zones or a large number of small zones.
As noted in today's article, a large number of zones such as those modeled on high school base attendance and high school transportation districts would result in wide racial and economic disparities. A smaller number of geographically large zones would be more diverse but have longer bus rides.
Near the end of the post is a spreadsheet that shows an N&O analysis of the demographics of all four zone maps samples. Plus, it shows where each individual node would be in the four sample maps.
School board member John Tedesco, chairman of the student assignment committee, said he prefers going with a large number of geographically small zones. This would make it easier for students to go to schools in their community but would lead to greater demographic disparities.
Tedesco said he's envisioning each zone with multiple elementary schools and at least one middle school and one high school. He said he'd want to create regional zones for additional middle school and high school choices.
Tedesco said his focus is on creating zones that provide equal education opportunities because he can't draw up demographically equal zones.
"There's no way we can draw up zones that can balance out the inequities in demographics from Zebulon to Apex," Tedesco said. "We can't bus all the way from Zebulon to Apex. I can't make Garner look like Apex."
The zones in the four maps with the highest percentages of minority and low-income students are in Southeast Raleigh and downtown Raleigh. Tedesco noted that most of the schools there are magnets so he said they can continue to accept magnet students to voluntarily desegregate them.
Of the sample maps under review, Tedesco said the one he likes the most is the one based on high school transportation districts. In that scenario, the data shows that the 15 zones would cover a range of between 7 percent and 72 percent white. The F&R ranges would go from 7 percent to 69 percent.
The clustering of rich and poor zones would be more extreme in the high school base zone map favored by some committee members. In that one, six of the 16 zones would have F&R percentages of 20 percent or less with six zones above 40 percent F&R.
In contrast, the area superintendent map with only seven zones would range between 31 and 64 percent white and 16 and 55 percent F&R.
At last month's committee meeting, Michael Alves had talked about the benefits of going with seven zones in Wake for the controlled choice model.
The next committee meeting is on Aug. 31. Tedesco said he'd like to reduce the number of maps under consideration at that meeting. They'll eventually begin adjusting the boundaries of the map they like the most.
Wake has been taking public comments on the zone maps, receiving 581 comments as of Friday.
The zone maps online don't have detailed boundary and node data because Tedesco said he wants more general comments on the four options. He said he didn't want at this point to deal with comments from people pitching for a particular map because of where their node is located.
But since the maps went online, committee members have gotten detailed node information on all four maps. It seems a lot of groups have been crunching away at the numbers for the Aug. 31 meeting.
Click here for the spreadsheet we did based on the school district's raw data. Click on the tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet to see where all 1,321 nodes fit in each sample map, along with demographic data on each node.
For those who aren't familiar with nodes, it's how the school district currently assigns students based on address. Tedesco has talked about doing away with the node system in the new assignment model.
But for now, you'll need to know your node number to see where you land on the maps. If you don't know your node, Click here for a link on the district's Website where you can find out your node by inputting your address.
Click here to view the four maps.