The Wake Education Partnership is laying out the potential challenges of assigning Wake County students to their closest school
Today, the WEP released the second issue of "Understand Your Schools," which it says is in response to the new school board majority's efforts to change student assignment. In a nutshell, the WEP found that any proposal that relies on sending students solely to their closest schools would quickly create dozens of capacity problems.
The WEP says that the new school board majority knows it's not possible to assign all students to their closest school as it would require tens of thousands of reassignments. But it says its review is still important in light of what could be coming.
"But in broad terms, the school board is committed to providing more choices to parents, including the option of attending schools as close to home as possible," according to the WEP review. "In that light, a review of what would happen if all children were assigned to their closest school allows people to gauge the possible effects of future assignment proposals."
Looking at capacity, the WEP said that if all of today's students were assigned to their closest schools, about two dozen buildings would be at 150 percent of capacity. About two dozen more schools would be at less than 50 percent capacity.
The review also found moving students closer to where they live would lead to major shifts in the socioeconomic balance at schools. For instance, the WEP said at least 15 schools would have F&R rates of at least 67 percent while 27 schools would have F&R rates of less than 10 percent.
The WEP includes interactive maps showing how school capacity levels and socioeconomic mixes would be affected by sending children to their closest school.
The WEP adds that it's "not endorsing any particular plan in presenting this topic review." The WEP say "the intent is to help readers better understand an issue that is expected to attract intense interest in the coming year.
The WEP says it plans in the future to take a closer look at school board member John Tedesco's proposal for community-based assignment zones.
The WEP has been releasing these topic reviews on a periodic basis. The group's first one in January looked at the challenges of converting schools back to a traditional calendar.
As expected, groups that are critical of the new school board majority are latching on to the white paper put out by the Wake Education Partnership.
The Progressive Pulse blog for N.C. Policy Watch is pointing to the white paper to say that "the Wake school board majority needs to seriously re-thnk its goals, strategies and tactics."