One issue that the Wake County school board will have to decide for the 2013-14 student assignment plan is what to do with the feeder patterns that were part of the choice plan.
Staff recommended, as part of the now discarded draft base maps, honoring the choice plan feeders for middle school and high school. The board's agreement last week to work with the 11-12 base maps means reconciling cases where the feeders are different from the choice plan.
The Democratic board members have been openly skeptical of the choice plan's premise that parents could be guaranteed a K-12 feeder pattern. But at last week's work session, board member Susan Evans offered what she called a "good compromise."
“I just wanted to acknowledge some emails I have received from some parents in the last few weeks because I was one of the ones that raised the issue that I’m not sure how practical it is to offer grandfathering these choice feeder patterns for 13 years," Evans said. "And I still believe that’s not practical.
But I’m okay with grandfathering them for a certain period of time, and I did hear from some parents who particularly entered the choice and moved their children to a particular middle school on purpose because of the grandfathering and so one suggestion that was made was that we honor the feeder patterns for three years so that the kids that are in middle school could move on to high school. I think that’s a fair compromise.
I’m not near so concerned about the kids in K through 5 needing to know where they’re going to high school, but I do have some understanding for those parents that made that commitment in middle school because of what they thought was their feeder so I’m just throwing that out as something for us to consider as a good compromise that maybe be we could honor those feeder patterns for a minimum of three years."
"To jump one level in school but not two?" interjected temporary Superintendent Stephen Gainey. "We can look at that.”
Board member Jim Martin, who like Evans has questioned the viability of 13 years of a guaranteed feeder, threw in a word of caution about honoring the feeders past the 13-14 school year.
“Even though I’d love to do it, I think we’re smart to promise what we can promise and that would be for the 13-14 school year," Martin said. "Not that I’m opposed to it, but if we put three years into it then we’re committed to three years into it before we break the promise. I’d rather promise what we can promise not what we can’t necessarily promise.”
One thing that the board has agreed on is to keep from the draft the grandfathering of students at their current school. This covers all the students who are set to continue at their current elementary, middle or high school for the 13-14 school year.
But that grandfathering doesn't, unless the board agrees to do so, cover a rising sixth-grader or rising ninth-grader next year who wants to go to the feeder from the choice plan and not the one that was their 11-12 base assignment.
Also, unless the board agrees to the idea from Evans of honoring the feeders for three years, it means a student who made a middle school choice this year would not automatically be entitled in a few years to the high school feeder they had wanted in the choice plan.