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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Closing the achievement gap conference

On a less controversial note this morning, the school system is encouraging parents to attend a conference on closing the achievement gap.

Karen Mapp, one of the authors of "Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships" is the headlined speaker at the event.  The Making Powerful Connections To Eliminate the Achievement Gap conference will be held Aug. 13 at the McKimmon Center at N.C. State.

Also at the conference, Wake County educators will discuss elementary school mathematics, taking part in effective parent-teacher conferences and navigating the school system.

There is limited space available. Registration is on a “first come, first serve” basis. A waiting list will be established. If you have questions, call Ann Rollins 854-2644.

Non-diversity at charter schools

One thing that's pretty clear as you walk around the new Endeavor Charter School is that the student body is largely white.

As noted in today's North Raleigh News article, minority students apparently account for a low percentage of the school's students. Official numbers will be calculated later.

Charter schools in Wake County have rarely matched the makeup of the school district. They've tended to be overwhelmingly white or overwhelmingly minority.

National F&R lunch guidelines

Tags: WakeEd | diversity

Based on all the questions about the accuracy of free and reduced lunch data, I thought you might be interested in the new federal income guidelines for the program.

For the 2008-09 school year, a family of four who reports a household income of less than $27,560 is eligbile for free lunch at school. For that same family, the feds consider $21,200 to be the poverty threshold.

Click here to see the chart.

Packing the book signing

A standing-room crowd of around 150 attended Wednesday's book signing for former Superintendent Bill McNeal and former school board member Tom Oxholm

The crowd at at Quail Ridge Books & Music had a number of local business and education leaders. They rushed to buy copies of "A School District's Journey To Excellence" and hear the two authors speak.

"It's like a preview of my funeral," Oxholm told the crowd. "I know who's coming."

The cost of Wake bus miscues

What should be the penalty for a school bus driver who drops a student off at the wrong stop?

As noted in today's article, Amanda Medlin thinks the driver who let her 5-year-old boy off four miles from home shouldn't be allowed back behind the wheel. The driver, according to Medlin, is now running a different route.

School officials said they disciplined the driver. Medlin calls it a "slap on the wrist" to allow the driver to still be operating a bus.

AC problems

Those pesky AC problems are cropping up at Salem Elementary again.

School was dismissed early at 12:45 p.m. due to the AC acting up. Wake had been working on Salem's AC unit in June as well.

With temps possibly hitting 100 during the next week, AC units will be working overtime.


School will reopen Thursday on a normal schedule. 

Tonight's Wake school book signing

Tonight is your chance to get former Superintendent Bill McNeal and former school board member Tom Oxholm to sign their new book for you.

The book signing for "A School District's Journey to Excellence" will begin at 7 p.m. at Quail Ridge Books & Music, 3522 Wade Avenue in Raleigh. The Public School Forum of North Carolina has been encouraging people to go so it should be interesting seeing who attends.

Quail Ridge is billing the book as "an in-depth look at Wake County schools." "You would be hard pressed to find someone more in the know about Wake County public schools than retired Superintendent Bill McNeal," according to Quail Ridge's website.

Click here for a post with some excerpts from the book. You can also find an excerpt here.

Sticking with transfers before tutoring

For now at least, Wake will stick with transfer choices as the first option for dealing with Title I schools that fall short under No Child Left Behind.

The State Board of Education hopes to hear from the feds this week whether its request to allow failing Title I schools to offer tutoring before transfers will be granted. But Wake wasn't among the 33 school districts that told state officials they'd want to take advantage of that option for the upcoming school year.

Wake school administrators will go ahead and name Aug. 5 the schools it will allow families to request transfers to attend. It will be up to the school board to approve those recommended schools or make changes.

Laying out the board's work plan

After months of work with an outside facilitator, the school board has finally finished its work plan.

In theory, the work plan lays out what the board wants to focus on between 2008-11. The items should be familiar as they're based off the findings of the curriculum management audit and the citizens' facilities advisory committee.

The board will look at is how to provide equal access to comparable programs, services, and opportunities to impact success for all students.

The board will also review offering weightlifting, wrestling and tennis and reducing parking spaces. Both of those options from the CFAC report drew a lot of negative remarks. Tennis supporters were especially unhappy.

There are plenty of other things in the work plan to keep the board busy. 

Starting a new Endeavor

Wake County's newest charter school is opening its doors today.

Endeavor Charter School is opening in North Raleigh with 378 students and a long waiting list. School officials say most of the students had attended the Wake school system last school year.

A number of teachers also worked for the school system last year.

For those who don't know, charter schools are public schools. But they're independent of the regular public schools. Look for more details in Friday's North Raleigh News.