Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata gave hopeful messages today about the state budget and the magnet school review during his news conference.
Tata said Wake has been "working very hard" with the General Assembly on the budget. Tata said he's hopeful of what he believes will be a good budget discussion over the next several weeks with legislators to hopefully lessen the impact of lost federal stimulus funds.
Tata said he's been talking to state legislators since January to articulate the school district's budget needs.
“My responsibility is to continue to engage the key lawmakers, all of the lawmakers, that influence the budget process to make sure we get as many resources as possible to fulfill the needs of our school system," Tata said. "We’re going to continue to do that.
Every day last week and over the weekend and the week before that, some portion of my day involved working with or discussing with legislators part of the budget, the education portion obviously, and working with other superintendents around the state to make sure that we are articulating our needs for public school systems."
Tata sidestepped a question about the education reform plan proposed by state Sen. Phil Berger, the Senate pro-tempore. Berger's plan calls for changes such as requiring third-graders to pass a reading test to be promoted, giving schools letter grades to assess their performance, ending teacher tenure and requiring school districts to develop performance pay plans for teachers.
“The bill that was just released is different than the one that was released a few weeks ago so we’re analyzing that bill right now and we’re sorting through what our position is on those items," Tata said. "So it would probably be premature for me to say what our stance is on that."
Tata said it would not be fruitful to comment o the earlier version of the bill.
On the magnet school review, Tata said Wednesday's meeting was "an example of board and staff working together." He said it was "excellent meeting."
“That was an excellent start and a review of a lot of data that is out there," Tata said.
Tata said they needed to go through all the data to help them set a baseline for moving forward.
Concurrent with the board meetings, Tata said the Wake Education Partnership is forming "an independent working group" to look at magnet schools.
Tata said school board members have been asked to nominate two members of their board advisory councils to participate in another group reviewing magnet schools.
“The idea would be to be as comprehensive as possible because the magnet program is a very important part of the Wake County legacy here," Tata said. "And so we want to make sure that we do our due diligence and make good solid recommendations to the board so we can move forward and provide the best possible education to all children, including those in magnet schools."
Also today, Tata congratulated Wake's 8,996 high school graduates who've earned $94 million in scholarships, urged parents to take the student assignment survey and reminded people that today is the last day to take the magnet review survey and to file a transfer request.
Tata also explained that they may not actually go ahead with appealing the Cary Town Council's veto of Wake using the future Alston Ridge Middle School site for Panther Creek High's ninth-grade center.
Tata said the appeal was filed as a "placeholder" to meet a filing deadline so that they could reserve the right to contest the decision at the August Cary Zoning Board meeting.
Tata said staff is looking at alternative sites to house the ninth-grade center.