New Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta has a busy 24 months ahead of him before he retires.
As noted in today's article, Margiotta, 71, doesn't plan to run for another seat on the board when his term expires November 2011. He's not taking excuses that changes are too hard to make.
"I keep hearing people say it's too hard to change things," Margiotta said in the article. "That the district is too large to make changes. I don't accept that. We're going to put our noses to the grindstone."
That would be a real retirement for Margiotta, who came to Apex in 2000 with his wife to spend more time with their daughter and grandson. He decided to raise cows because he wanted to have something to do with his time.
But his grandson's reassignment sparked him to run, culminating in him now being chairman of the board.
Greater use of neighborhood schools and no mandatory year-round schools are among the things that Margiotta wants to explore, possibly as soon as the 2010-11 school year.
But Margiotta said he also wants to address the "bright flight" of students to private schools and charter schools. The departure of these often high-achieving and affluent students increases the poverty level in the school system.
School administrators say that the net number of students returning to the district annually from charters, home-schools and private schools is greater than those who leave. But overall, there's still a large percentage of the county's schoolage population, as much as 18 percent, who aren't attending the Wake school system.
"I'm a supporter of private schools and charter schools, but at the same time i want to bring them back to us," Margiotta said.
In connection with the above goal, Margiotta said he wants to do a better job of addressing the needs of academically gifted students.
Margiotta also wants to measure Wake against other school districts nationally, not just those in the state. He said this could cost additional money in the form of new testing to make national comparisons.
In recent years, Wake has gotten away from comparing itself to other districts nationally. You don't hear Wake talk much any more about the Educational Benchmarking Network. Under EBN, Wake and a consortium of districts around the country shared data, including testing results.
Earlier in this decade, Wake's SAT report compared the district with other EBN districts such as Fairfax County in Virginia and Gwinnett County in Georgia. Wake did better than some and worse than others.
In recent years, Wake's SAT report compares the district with the other big districts in the state. In that comparison, Wake is on top.