More details to come, but the three new Democratic Wake County school board members are making a bid today to derail the two new single-sex leadership academies.
During the presentation at today's work session (click here for the handout), school board member Susan Evans said it wasn't fiscally responsible to start the academies now.
"Maybe it’s late in the game to have this discussion, but we haven’t had the chance to discuss it until now," Evans said.
Evans complained that Superintendent Tony Tata hadn't given the board the opportunity before to discuss the programmatic piece of the schools. She also complained about not having gotten notice from Tata before today's announcement about the expansion of the STEM and Global Schools programs.
Board member Christine Kushner said it was irresponsible to enter into an agreement to partner and house students at Peace University considering the difficulties going on there. Some Peace alums and faculty have lobbied the school board to not house the academies at the university.
Several Peace critics have signed up to speak tonight against the deal. One speaker, Susan Murray, a parent of a Peace student, said the high school students won't be welcomed on campus considering the frustrations that people have with the university's administration.
Board member Jim Martin questioned the decision to expand early college programs, saying it's something the board should have decided on. The N.C. State professor said that college faculty aren't clamoring to have more high school students on campus.
Martin said too few students are being served as the early colleges. He argued they should instead focus on bringing up the quality of the programs at the other high schools.
Amid the concerns, Tata pointed out that 300 students have already been assigned there after applying.
The board is scheduled to discuss the memorandum of understanding with Peace in closed session tonight. This could lead to its adoption.
As long as the four Republican members and Democratic board vice chairman Keith Sutton still back the academies, it should still pass. Sutton has been the most vocal proponent of the leadership academies.
You are pretty much in limbo right now if you're one of the 300 Wake County middle school and high school students who got accepted into one of the single-gender leadership academies for this fall.
After a lengthy closed-session discussion tonight on the memorandum of understanding with Peace, the school board adjourned without taking any action. What make the situation more tenuous is that there's a vocal contingent on the board that doesn't want to house the students at Peace.
If the board rejects a deal with Peace, the question is whether they could find a place to house the high school students for the 2012-13 school year. One option could be to house all the students for one year at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, whose lease deal also hasn't been approved yet but which seems to have less opposition.
The school board does have some flexibility in choosing a college partner. Only high school freshmen would attend this fall. They wouldn't start taking college courses until they're juniors.