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's new student assignment plan offering many different things

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The draft summary of Wake County's new student assignment plan seems to promise a lot of things to different people.

As noted in today's article, the plan promotes proximity by noting that "base assignments will be made at one of their proximate schools to the extent possible." It also says that "residential areas and subdivisions proximate to schools and representative of the students already attending the schools" were used.

For those concerned about diversity, administrators say "in the establishment of the base school attendance area, student performance data was used when an overcrowded or under enrolled school was adjusted."

In answer to board members concerns, staff says that when the lines were drawn up "student achievement targets for each school factored in when adding or removing particular neighborhoods to reach school capacity and achievement goals.

Further, staff is telling board members that "student achievement targets for each school were factored in when adding or removing particular neighborhoods to reach school capacity goals and balanced base assignment areas."

Staff also points to how "students who attend a school designated as low performing have a guarantee to attend a school designated as Regional Choice if they request it during the Open Enrollment process."

Throw in the additional resources at schools whose performance composite is 10 or more percentage points below the district average.

For those worried about overcrowding, the plan calls for setting enrollment caps at schools once they hit 100 percent of capacity.

For those concerned about choice, the plan has an open enrollment period in the spring during which families can apply to non-magnet schools that aren't capped. Transportation won't be provided to every choice.

For those who want stability, there's s stay-where-you-start component for families reassigned to attend newly opening schools, such as what will happen next year to fill Abbotts Creek Elementary and Rolesville High. Rising first through fifth, seventh, eighth and 10th graders will be able to stay at their current school but would lose transportation for not going to the new school.

All other current students are grandfathered at their current school and keep their current level of bus service.

For the Inside the Beltline families who complained about not getting into a proximate school under the choice plan, the magnet percentages at Joyner, Underwood and Wiley elementary schools are being reduced to 20 percent to free up more base seats.

For people who are not going to their base school, they can file during the base declaration period to go back to their base school the following year if there's space. What's unclear is whether this would apply to, let's say, a magnet school eighth-grader who wants to go to the base high school for ninth-grade.

Some of the other changes may or not be as welcomed:

* Green Elementary and East Garner Elementary would switch from a year-round calendar to a traditional calendar.
* Alston Ridge and Highcroft elementary schools would switch from being a single-track, year-round school to a multi-track, year-round school.
* Vance Elementary and North Garner Middle would switch from being multi-track, year-round schools to single-track, year-rounds.

There's some initial board reaction to the summary.
“It’s got some great points,” school board member Christine Kushner said of the plan on Monday. “We need to repeat early and often that students will be grandfathered.”

Where board member Jim Martin wasn't happy that it was a neighborhood school plan, that got the opposite reaction from board member Chris Malone.

“This is for all intents and purposes a neighborhood school plan that has some elements of choice in it,” Malone said.


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I'm thoroughly disgusted by

I'm thoroughly disgusted by the "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" attitude of refusing to release the maps.  

Hide the information that is needed to make an informed decision about the plan.  This sets the board up to be able to ignore all the public comment they get, since that will have to be based on conjecture and guesswork.  

Nothing's changed, except the magnet entitlement program for certain ITB neighborhoods gets more deeply entrenched.  Don't worry, county edges.  You'll have lots of year-round base schools, where they can randomly switch you between tracks instead.

Don't be disgusted

This board was elected by voters who just had to have a change because things were soooooo terrible.

Those voters are now getting what they deserve and what they voted for, more failed leadership.


Evans is actually arguing that the maps used to develop this new plan should not be made available to the public because parents will use that information when speaking at the hearings. She said the Board should review them first and not reveal them to the public until they tell them to.

And now Kushner is agreeing with her. I thought transparency was their "thing".

Keung, aren't they now public documents?

This is where it gets a

This is where it gets a little messy about the info being public. The board says it hasn't seen the maps yet and apparently they're not done yet. Friday was apparently when they would have been ready to go.


I don't think the NC Public Records law cares if any of the Board members have actually seen or had time to review the document(s). The law states that all documents made in connection with public business are public record.

Not getting on your back. Just pointing out that the Board doesn't make those rules.

How about this hole Sam?

You can't see the maps because Evans and Kushner don't want you to be informed!

Oh this is priceless.

Nice. Of course, how much do

Nice. Of course, how much do you want to bet that GSIW gets a peek at those maps?

The public cannot comment on this plan until we have some idea how they define 'proximate', and we won't know how they define proximate until we see the maps or at least be able to look up addresses.

Are you still at the meeting? WRAL's streaming stopped so I can't see the discussion.


I was watching the stream. It switched links around 8p.

Kushner and Evans said releasing the maps will cause parents to discuss too many details -- like "I don't want to go to this assignment" and they want parents to comment on the overall structure of the plan. Perhaps they can suggest what we actually say at the hearings too.

Martin went further and said he would like to release the maps but if they are released now, they will just have to continue to release version after version, if changed. The more they give reasons for not releasing them, the curiouser I get.

It seems they are not going to do the public hearings as planned (although, I'll let Keung confirm that) and I didn't hear any resolution to the maps. They are public so I guess you can just request them.

You have to pass to be able

You have to pass to be able to see whats in it....

The last assignment plan took almost 2 years to go from concept to vote and many people (GSIW included) were screaming it was rushed. This plan is going from concept to vote in about 4 months and those same people can hardly contain themselves with joy.

This plan is going nowhere

anytime soon.  This board's majority is too dysfunctional and they really don't have a clue what they are doing. 

As is obvious by their decision to keep facts and data from the public once again.

New Schools assignment -?

They refer to the 2 new schools scheduled to open next year - one is Rolesville HS & the Soft Transition #11 of the Recommendations says : 

 Families whose base attendance area is one of the two new schools, Abbotts Creek ES or Rolesville HS, will enroll and complete the 2012-13 school year at Wakefield ES or Wake Forest Rolesville HS.


Do they mean 2013-14?  Will those 2 schools not open on time?  Or are they saying that only students at WF-Rolesville HS will go to the Rolesville HS? 

Laura Evans said that just

Laura Evans said that just means you'd go to one of those two locations to register because Abbotts Creek and Rolesville High probably won't be ready facilitywise before the summer. It doesn't mean only Wakefield ES students would be reassigned to Abbotts Creek or WFRHS kids would only be reassigned to RHS.

Thank you - that helps. I

Thank you - that helps. I was afraid they were saying those schools wouldn't be ready for the 13-14 school year.  Thank you also for keeping the public up-to-date on WCPSS. 

WRAL stopped streaming

WRAL stopped streaming during the SWD part of the presentation. What discussion took place after the presentation?

continuity in schools

Will there be a path from elem to ms to hs?

Will we get more than one hs choice - not including magnets?

Node Assignment Online??

Hi. Are the node assignments online? I went to wcpss.net site but could not find them. Thanks!!

Staff is waiting for the

Staff is waiting for the board's direction on when to post the address lookup feature. All the information is ready to go online.


I thought that Nodes was not going to be the way of this plan?

You don't need nodes to do

You don't need nodes to do an address lookup.

They still need them to

They still need them to calculate low and  high proficiencies for the lotteries.

They are increasing the

They are increasing the number of 'nodes' to over 9000.

Thank You

Keung, thank you!

Holy Holes there are too many HOLES!

"to the extent possible"  and there is where a big problem for many will be.  Basically most who didn't get choice #1 this time probably won't next.  Putting caps on schools at 100% should've been done long ago, but it's going to leave many in the streets, waiting for a tardy bus to head further away.

Lots of folks will loose transportation.  People always love this one.

Switching under capacity year rounds to a single track?  That's the way to keep wasting tax dollars guys.  That should help you with your bond propaganda.

Not enough "D" in it for some and Martin still isn't happy.  Surprise on both accounts.

So now that we have an idea as to just some of the holes in this quickly schemed up plan, HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

We need cost figures and then we can begin a discussion about this as a community.  I hear Calla and Yvoone plan to protest and hold meetings.  As is usually the case with something this large, this does not need to be rushed and will take time.  The community needs to discuss it, study it and discuss it some more. Right Sam!!

Time for the bus stop moms to build the "Assignment Wheel of Fortune" to have it ready when needed.  It will be needed many times for many students in the coming years. 

It's unclear that the loss

It's unclear that the loss of bus service would affect many families. The only people who will definitely lose transportation are the folks who choose to grandfather rather than go next year to Rolesville High or Abbotts Creek Elementary.

It looks like people who opt to go to the feeder pattern middle school or high school from the choice plan aren't guarnateeed bus service. But Wake also says that any student going to a base school will get transportation and that all current students can grandfather at their current school with their current bus service if they're not going to a newly opening school. This would seem to imply that the only transportation that would be at risk is if a family entering a secondary school in 2013 wants to use the 2012 feeder when their base assignment is different.


(1) This school board is going to vote on whether the school district is going to break the promise it made to parents last year, when it guaranteed feeder patterns.  Lots of people made decisions last year based those feeder patterns. 

(2) We're back to annual reassignments.

Here's the $20,000 question:  If you're in, say, a Middle School magnet program, are you guaranteed a spot at a High School magnet program.  Magnet parents will howl if this doesn't happen, but it's really unfair to everybody else.  (And, yes, I know that's in the current choice plan.)

Unless I read it wrong

(and I don't think I did), the feeder patterns from THIS year WILL be honored. They might not have transportation but they WILL be honored. Am I misunderstanding?

I'm wrong

I had only read the summary in this post and not the document when I posted that.  This year's feeders are honored, but without transportation.

For the Inside the Beltline

For the Inside the Beltline families who complained about not getting into a proximate school under the choice plan, the magnet percentages at Joyner, Underwood and Wiley elementary schools are being reduced to 20 percent to free up more base seats.


These schools do not need magnet students at all.

And if you do not need

And if you do not need Magnet students, then you do not need a Magnet program.  These schools are now fine with their base populations.  Move the programs where needed.


The tricky aspect is defining "where needed" in the absence of any overarching plan regarding provision of enrichments county wide.

Very good point.

Very good point.



The caveats on Priority 1

The caveats on Priority 1 and 2 selection may keep you from getting in anyway as they are based on whether the school is capped or partially capped.  Priority 3 "stay where you start" policy requires that you provide your own transportation when grandfathering.  I guess we'd need to know if they have "capped" any schools based on crowding already or if and when in the process they plan to "cap" a school.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.