WakeEd

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?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Extending administrative contracts

The school district's senior administrators are getting some job security.

On Tuesday, the school board voted to extend the contracts of Superintendent Del Burns' leadership team through June 30, 2012. It matches Burns' contract status.

Click here to see the list.

Mike Burriss, assistant superintendent for facilities, is on that list. But he's leaving later this year to take a job in the private sector.

Reconsidering a school land deal

The school board isn't the only group in the mood to reconsider things.

County Commissioner Lindy Brown said today she's reconsidering her vote against buying an 80-acre parcel off Forestville Road north of Raleigh for a new high school. She said she'll ask commissioners to now support the deal after getting new information at today's joint meeting.

School board members and administrators made a pitch for the commissioners to reconsider last month's 4-3 vote. School leaders cited a new lower price for the land, the unsuitability of alternative sites and the impact on student assignment.

Click here for the online story.

Changing Ligon's AG Basics program

The democratization of Ligon Middle School is moving forward.

As noted in today's North Raleigh/Midtown Raleigh News article, Ligon eliminated the practice of having sixth-grade teams of only academically gifted students or only regular students. The teams were mixed this year.

Ligon also modified its AG Basics magnet program so that fewer AG sixth-graders are taking core courses with just gifted kids. More of these gifted students are in mixed classes, just like other non AG Basics schools, where they're supposed to receive differentiated instruction.

A joint meeting and a tour

Today's joint meeting of the school board and county commissioners could be friendly or heated depending on how things turn out.

They probably won't be too ornery when talking about the school district's use of "green" schools.

It could get less friendly when school administrators make a presentation about why they need commissioners to approve the purchase of land for a new high school in northeastern Wake. Commissioners have refused to approve the deal because of the cost of clearing the rocky parcel.

Looking at schools to unconvert

It's probably safe to assume that a lot of people are wondering which schools might be recommended for conversion back to a traditional calendar.

As noted in today's article, no specific schools were named at Tuesday's school board meeting. But at this point it's only likely that a few of the 22 converted schools will be proposed.

This handout from Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting provides some clues as to where the staff and board will look at first. The key column to focus on in attachment 1 is which converted schools would still be under capacity if they were on a traditional calendar.

Reversing conversions being considered

Rescinding the year-round conversions is now officially on the school board's table.

School board members asked Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning, today to come up with a scenario for the next building program that would reverse some of the conversions. He's expected to report back next month with schools that could be switched back to a traditional calendar.

The thing to keep mind is that the board is looking at reversing a few conversions, not all 22.

Click here for the online story.

Wake sued over autistic class

The school system is being sued again.

Disability Rights North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit this morning against Wake to get access to a self-contained autistic class at Carroll Middle School in Raleigh. The group has received allegations of abuse and neglect of those students but says Wake is blocking them from investigating.

Disability Rights, which is empowered by the Governor's Office to provide protection and advocacy services for disabled people, lays out some pretty serious allegations in its lawsuit.

UPDATE

Click here for the online story. Click here to read the lawsuit.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Broughton

A somewhat tall tale is being spread by some Broughton High alumni to lobby against the front lawn being turned into a parking lot.

"Are you aware that Martin Luther King Jr. gave the Non-Violence and Racial Justice speech on the Broughton High School lawn on Feb 10, 1958. This is not a bunch of sentimental alumni trying to preserve a front lawn. There is real historical significance here that most people are not aware of. It would seem even the Historical Commission should be notified," says the e-mail being distributed around the community.

This web site is used as proof. But things didn't quite happen that way.

Minority businesses and fund balance

Year-round schools aren't the only topic the school board will deal with today.

The board will hear school administrators tout how they've exceeded the district's goal of having minority businesses account for at least 10 percent of the district's construction contracting program. Board policy calls for staff "to actively seek and identify qualified minority business enterprises" for construction contracts.

The board will also hear a request to dip into the rainy day fund to provide money for traditional-calendar schools to hire enough teachers.

School districts facing fuel shortage

School districts are being warned they might have problems getting fuel for school buses this week.

The State Department of Public Instruction says fuel vendors are saying that Hurricane Ike has disrputed their fuel supplies. This has left some school districts with only a day or two of fuel remaining.

While Wake says it's ok, Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools is in emergency mode after having not gotten two shipments of fuel. Charlotte has cancelled field trips, middle school sports and tutoring to conserve its supply. 

UPDATE

Read Charlotte's press release.