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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Wake County schools on graduation rate and bond issue

Here’s a quick recap of other things discussed during Tuesday’s Wake County school board meeting.

School administrators said they are working to raise the graduation rate, which is now below the state average. During a countywide principals meeting on Thursday, they’ll discuss strategies that some schools say have worked to raise the graduation rate.

It sounds like school administrators will recommend including more funding in the upcoming budget for programs designed to raise the graduation rate.

During the regular meeting, school board member John Tedesco gave a vocal defense of the school bond issue. Tedesco said the bond money is need to pay for renovations that would give students safe, quality, clean schools.

Click here for the online article.

Wake County school board may discuss school calendar changes for 2014

Are schedule shifts to the year-round calendar on the Wake County school system’s radar?

This afternoon, staff presented a forecast of topics that departments will be working on for the rest of the year. Under student assignment, it says “staff begins first draft of Year-Round Schools Proposal for 2014-15.”

It also calls for the school board to receive the year-round schools proposal as part of the 2014-15 student assignment plan, which would also include “any fine tuning recommendations” “to address crowding.” It says there should be board public hearings and board work sessions before “Board approves school calendar changes for 2014-15.”

Looking at Wake County school board races in Distrcts 1, 2 and 9

In case you didn’t see the articles that ran Sunday in the community papers, there were stories several dealing with the Wake County school board races.

The Cary News article by Andrew Kenney noted that District 9 school board member Bill Fletcher and challenger Nancy Caggia tended to agree on the big issues during last week’s candidate forum. The Garner-Cleveland Record article by Kyle Jahner noted the differences that District 2 school board candidates Monika Johnson Hostler and Matt Scruggs had on the bonds at a forum last week.

The Eastern Wake News article by Paul A. Specht contrasts the differences that District 1 school board member Tom Benton and his opponent Don McIntyre have on issues such as student assignment, the bond issue and vouchers. It also includes their perspectives the recent curriculum audits that found problems at four Eastern Wake schools.

Kingswood Elementary School may get Wake County magnet school program

Kingswood Elementary School in Cary could become Wake County’s next magnet school.

School administrators said at last week’s school board student achievement committee meeting they plan to recommend magnetizing Kingswood and giving it a Montessori theme. Staff wants the board to approve Kingswood’s magnet status on Oct. 1 so the school could participate in the upcoming magnet school fair and recruit magnet students for the 2014-15 school year.

Click here for a handout from last week’s committee meeting that gives more details. Kingswood is on the last page, where staff also says they’re reviewing themes at some other magnet schools to see how to make them more attractive heading into recruiting season.

Wake County school board to discuss graduation rate trends today

The Wake County school board will tackle today high school graduation rates and the issues it may deal with over the next year.

During the work session, staff will give a presentation on graduation rate trends which now have Wake below the state average. You can probably expect some discussion about what steps Wake could take to raise the rate.

Also during the work session, the board will look at a forecast of issues it could discuss during the 2013-14 school year. Student assignment should be one of those topics but how much it’s mentioned today during the 30-minute discussion is uncertain.

Overall, it should be a short day in both the work and regular sessions. Coincidentally or not, the meeting agendas have been getting shorter as the date nears for the school bond referendum.

National Journal looks at Wake County school bond issue

The National Journal is focusing on Raleigh for its latest “America 360”series looking at “forward-thinking local economies.”

The focus of its first article Monday is on next month’s $810 million Wake County school construction bond referendum. The magazine bills itself as “Washington’s premier source of nonpartisan insight on politics and policy,” but the article is an attack on Republicans.

One hint of the tone of the piece is the headline: “The GOP Plan to Sabotage Raleigh's Successful Growth.”

Impact of Wake County school board candidates opposing school bond issue

How much will the Wake County school board candidates be impacted by their positions on the $810 million school construction bond issue?

As noted in today's article, all the candidates in Districts 7 and 9 back the bond. But in Districts 1 and 2, you've got a clear split between the candidates on the bond.

“I’m surprised that anybody running for school board who has done the research would be opposed to the bonds,” said school board member Tom Benton, a Democrat running in District 1.

East Wake Republican Club opposes Wake County school bond issue

The East Wake Republican Club is opposing the $810 million Wake County school construction bond issue and says it will "use their resources to defeat the measure. “

In a press release dated Friday, the club says it unanimously voted to reject the bond issue because of “a lack of funding for actual education, unused capacity for growth already available, audit findings pointing to misuse of current resources, and the 10% tax increase residents will suffer for a largely unnecessary proposal.”

“East Wake Republicans support great public education and the hard working teachers and staff laboring to improve educational achievement for students and their families,” according to the press release. “East Wake Republicans are working to elect common sense conservative school board members who will prioritize real academic progress.”

Wake County school board candidate Nancy Caggia holding "meet and greet" Monday night

Wake County school board candidate Nancy Caggia is focusing on her endorsements from Cary Town Council members in announcing a “meet and greet” event she’s holding Monday night.

Caggia will be at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, 119 Ambassador Loop, Cary, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday. Caggia says that Cary Town Councilwoman Gale Adcock is her special guest.

Caggia, running against school board member Bill Fletcher for the District 9 seat, touts in the announcement that she “is endorsed by Wake GOP and a majority of Town of Cary Council members.” Caggia includes glowing comments from Adcock and Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht in her release.

WRAL goes "On The Record" tonight on Wake County school bond issue

Billie Redmond, co-chairwoman of the Friends of Wake County, takes on Ed Jones, chairman of the Wake County Taxpayers Association, in a debate on the Wake County school bond issue that will air tonight on WRAL.

This episode of "On The Record" was preempted last week by U.S. Open coverage. If you don't want to wait until 7:30 p.m. tonight to watch it on air, click here for the video link.

David Crabtree repeatedly says Redmond is from Wake CARES. She diplomatically doesn't correct him.