There's really not much doubt that if the new Wake County student assignment plan is implemented for the 2012-13 school year that it will be changed from what was adopted in October.
But, as noted in today's article, the jury is out on how extensive the changes would be. The starting point will be the Jan. 3 work session in which board members will go through their concerns in detail with staff.
"We’ve got one chance to make it right and for everyone to feel a strong level of comfort,” said Democratic board vice chairman Keith Sutton. “The problem is we’re not getting that comfort level. To raise that level of comfort will require some give and take.”
Sutton said he didn't think that would involve "insurmountable" changes.
Republican school board member John Tedesco said it’s understandable that the new board members want to learn more about the plan. But he said the board should avoid making major changes considering how families made decisions on whether to apply for magnet schools, whose application period ended Monday, based on the choices they had from the assignment plan.
“It would be very concerning and disrespectful to put in changes after the process has already begun,” Tedesco said.
Tedesco suggested that the board review the first year of the plan and make changes for the following year.
Tedesco said making a few feeder pattern changes would not be major. But he said that setting aside a fixed percentage of seats at regional choice schools for students from low-performing nodes would be a major change.
Democratic school board chairman Kevin Hill said he hasn’t heard any talk from board members or staff about delaying implementation. But he said that they’ll have a better idea of the status of the plan after the work session.
New Democratic school board member Christine Kushner said she wants to find out more information on issues such as how Wake will monitor implementation before deciding on the new plan.
“It’s my responsibility to make sure that this is the right fit for the community,” she said.
Sutton said it was "more than likely" that they'll implement the plan in 2012-13 with some changes. He said it's possible that some elements such as the timelines for the application periods may need to be pushed back.
New Democratic school board member Jim Martin said a thorough review is needed because the board had approved it in October with “too many questions unanswered.”
"The most important thing is to have a successful and sustainable student assignment plan," Martin said. "There are some passionate people who are saying it should be delayed. There are some passionate people who say it should be approved as is. The reality is probably something in between."
Tedesco countered that if there so many questions with the plan that it wouldn’t have been supported by outgoing board members Anne McLaurin and Carolyn Morrison or by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
Hill said he's hoping the work session and future discussion on the plan will lead to consensus.
"The purpose of the work session is for the board to come together to talk it out and try to come to a consensus," Hill said.