How well do you think the new and somewhat fractured majority on the Wake County school board performed this past school year?
As noted in today's article, this past year saw a lot of fire and brimstone on the issue of student assignment and school diversity. While the former majority members say they wish they could have done more, they're pleased overall with what they did accomplish on student assignment and other issues.
“We’ve been doing some good things," said school board member Chris Malone. "We’re moving forward. We’re trying to get student assignment worked out.
While we’re not as far as we’d want to be, we’re moving forward. It’s incontrovertible that we’ve got more people going to school closer to where they live.”
Malone, board member John Tedesco and board chairman Ron Margiotta are pointing to a lengthy list of accomplishments they feel have been overshadowed by the controversy over ending the diversity policy.
In addition to changing the student assignment policy and making some nodes changes, they point to a list of other actions such as:
* New middle school math placement guidelines.
* Changing the zero-tolerance discipline policies.
* Ending Wacky Wednesdays while still having teachers find the time for professional learning teams;
* Essentially ending mandatory year-round schools;
* Abandoning Forest Ridge High for the new Rolesville High;
* New partnership to allow Knightdale High students to take AP courses at Green Hope High.
“We’ve made some substantial changes," Tedesco said. "We’re bringing to light issues people weren’t talking about.”
Board member Kevin Hill was far more neutral about how the past year went.
“It’s been an interesting year," HIll said. "It’s been a busy year. We’ve had a great deal on our part to address."
Tedesco and Margiotta say that, in hindsight, there may have some things they could have done differently.
Tedesco says they probably shouldn’t have tried to get as much public input in the initial development of the zone model. He says they should have considered doing it like prior boards when the assignment plan was developed by staff behind closed doors and then presented as a finished product to the public for comment.
Since the zone plan was still under development, Tedesco said people were picking apart some items or not understanding how some things would work. He said people didn't understand that the plan would have been phased in over time, had grandfathering and would have allowed more options for Southeast Raleigh students to apply to schools outside their zone to reduce the possibility of high poverty schools.
“There were a lot of parts in the plan that were misunderstood because it wasn’t finalized yet," Tedesco said.
Margiotta said it was a mistake to not have quickly revised the student assignment policy. The original plan, before bowing to public complaints about the lack of notice in the Dec. 1 meeting agenda, had been to adopt the changes last December.
Margiotta said that the several months it took to adopt the policy changes gave time for the opposition to organize.
“I didn’t expect the kind of problems we had with the assignment plan," Margiotta said. "I expected controversy but not the amount of controversy we had. The problem is we dragged out the policy.”
In the end, Margiotta said he's not dwelling on what could have been done differently.
"What’s done is done," Margiotta said. "We have to live with it and move forward. I’m disappointed that the assignment process isn’t moving forward but I’m hoping we can bring that back.”