Wake reassignment plan would move 3,200 students - Education - NewsObserver.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wake reassignment plan would move 3,200 students - Education - NewsObserver.com

Thousands of SE Raleigh students might be reassigned - Home Page - NewsObserver.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thousands of SE Raleigh students might be reassigned - Home Page - NewsObserver.com

RALEIGH -- Amid heated words about resegregation, members of a Wake County school board committee proposed today moving thousands of Southeast Raleigh students to schools closer to where they live next year.
Some members of the student assignment committee said the Southeast Raleigh moves are consistent with the new policy adopted in May that eliminates diversity as a factor in assignments while stressing proximity.
“It’s pretty clear that if we’re going to be consistent with policy, sending nodes from WakeMed on (U.S.) 64 on the eastern side of Raleigh to Apex is a far cry from proximity,” said school board member John Tedesco.
But other committee members who supported the now-discarded diversity policy warned that the moves of the Southeast Raleigh students would create high-poverty schools. They also warned it would eliminate large numbers of seats in Southeast Raleigh magnet schools for people to apply to next year.
“The bottom line is what’s best educationally for the children,” said Anne Sherron, a community member appointed by board member Carolyn Morrison. “I don’t think arbitrarily moving children is the end all.”
Today’s fight was the latest battleground for the fight over the role of school diversity in the state’s largest school system.
Members of a new board majority elected last fall eliminated the use of socioeconomic diversity in the student assignment policy adopted in the spring. They instead stressed stability, proximity and family choice in the new policy.
Board members have deadlocked on developing a long-term assignment model that would carry out the new policy. Republican board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman joined with Democrats on Nov. 9 to adopt a plan to follow a consensus-building approach.
In the short term, Goldman had voted with Democrats on Oct. 5 on killing the development of a plan to divide the county into 16 assignment zones. But the resolution also called for making adjustments to next year’s plan that comply with the new policy.
Three citizen members of the committee appointed by new board members came to today’s meeting with a list of changes affecting large numbers of Southeast Raleigh students.
Staff was asked to consider these moves when presenting a revised 2011-12 student assignment plan to the board next Tuesday.
Tracey Noble, the community member for board member Deborah Prickett, proposed numerous moves that would send Southeast Raleigh students out of schools in North Raleigh.
David Williams, the community member for Tedesco, proposed moves to send Southeast Raleigh students out of Garner High and East Garner Middle back to their communities.
Ann Rouleau, the community member for board chairman Ron Margiotta, proposed moving Southeast Raleigh students out of schools in western Wake.
Sherron warned that the moves could put Wake into even more trouble with federal investigators. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint from the NAACP that alleges racism from a number of moves made earlier this year to send Garner High students to Southeast Raleigh High. Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/11/30/834890/thousands-of-se-raleigh-students.html#ixzz16nbcHJUf

Knightdale Education Forum TV Schedule

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Knightdale 100 education forum that was held at Knightdale Town Hall on 11/15/10, will be viewable on Time Warner EWTV channel during the following times this week:

Wednesday -
12:00:00 PMKnightdale 100 Education Forum

Thursday -
12:00:00 PMKnightdale 100 Education Forum

Friday -
12:00:00 PMKnightdale 100 Education Forum

Saturday -
12:00:00 PMKnightdale 100 Education Forum

Sunday -
12:00:00 PMKnightdale 100 Education Forum

The forum is also available "on-demand" here

Schools blueprint takes shape

Monday, November 1, 2010

GARNER -- Wake County students in neighboring houses could be assigned to different schools on the basis of how well they score on tests and even their projected ability to learn under a new plan being developed with the backing of two influential nonprofits.

Going into detail as specific as whether a student comes from a single-parent family, the emerging blueprint is not official, but is the only student assignment plan known to be on the table now. Wake school board members recently scrapped a 16-zone plan that was being crafted by a committee headed by Republican member John Tedesco.
The unofficial plan, designed by Massachusetts consultant Michael Alves, would give families a range of school choices while dividing the district into a handful of attendance areas that reflect the county's demographics and have similar student achievement levels, officials of the nonprofit Wake Education Partnership said Wednesday. The Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring Alves' work.
"Schools are about student achievement," Tim Simmons, vice president of the Wake Education Partnership, said after a presentation to the Garner Chamber of Commerce. "This is a student achievement plan."
Under the still-evolving plan, families would make multiple choices of which school their children would attend. But school administrators would make the final decision, looking at the guiding principles of family choice, proximity to home, stability and student achievement.
The goal would be to avoid having too many low-achieving students at any school. For older students, administrators would look at their test scores. For children entering kindergarten, Simmons said, Wake school administrators might look at such factors as whether the child attended preschool or came from a single-parent home and the education level the parents attained.
Simmons stressed Wednesday that the plan would guarantee that students can stay at the school they're attending at the time the assignment program is implemented. Once students are accepted into a school, they won't be reassigned, he said.
But the Alves plan quickly drew charges Wednesday that it was just another attempt to bring back the diversity policy the school board discarded in May. By factoring in the economic station of students' families, the old policy attempted to keep individual schools from having too many low-income students. Students from poorer backgrounds on average don't do as well academically as their more affluent peers. The long-standing policy had withstood challenges until a new Republican majority emerged from last year's school board elections.

A mirror image

"It's a way to create another proxy," said Tedesco, whose election last fall helped form the majority that killed the diversity policy. "It's still a quota-based system," he said after hearing the presentation.
Tedesco said that most of the Alves plan mirrors what his committee had been working on before the Oct. 5 vote to kill that effort, a measure made possible by Republican board Vice Chairwoman Debra Goldman's break from the majority. But the differences, including the use of academic achievement as a factor in assignments, amounted to a deal breaker for Tedesco.
"It's just a repackaging of what they did before," added Kathleen Brennan, a co-founder of Wake CARES, a parent group that backed the new school board members elected last year. "The Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber just want to keep schools balanced and not help individual students."
It's also uncertain whether the school board will embrace this new plan.
School board member Carolyn Morrison found elements of the plan "promising" and predicted that the board will be able to reach a compromise on student assignment.
"It will all work out," said Morrison, a Democrat who attended the Wednesday presentation.
But Republican school board member Chris Malone said the plan was "dead on arrival." He said it would be "hypocritical" of the Democrats and Goldman to use the plan when it still has zones and doesn't have base schools.
"Mr. Alves should buy his wife a mink with the fee for the plan, because it's the only good thing that will come from it," Malone said.
Simmons, the Wake Education Partnership spokesman, denied that the Alves plan was an attempt to restore the old diversity policy or to create quotas at schools. He said keeping schools from being swamped with low-achieving students would improve expectations and make it easier to retain high-quality principals and teachers. Orage Quarles III, president and publisher of The News & Observer, is a member of the board of trustees of the Wake Education Partnership, an advocacy group that had been a strong supporter of the school system's discarded diversity policy.
Simmons said the plan being developed by Alves would still be governed by the new student assignment policy adopted in May that eliminates socioeconomic diversity as a factor in determining where the 143,000 students attend class in North Carolina's largest school district.
Simmons said Alves is basing his plan on the board's priorities of proximity, stability and family choice, while also adding in student achievement as a factor.
"There is no point in our providing the school board a plan that is immediately outside the box of what they have said they wanted," he said.
Alves is working to avoid the creation of any school population with large numbers of low-achieving students, a potential outcome of the zone plan that the school board had been considering. The plan Tedesco's committee was developing would have divided Wake into 16 community school zones.
In contrast, the Alves plan envisions two to four much larger attendance areas, Simmons said. He said having fewer areas would make it easier to balance achievement levels across the zones and in individual schools.
One of the reasons Goldman said she broke with her Republican colleagues on Oct. 5, fracturing the majority, was because the Tedesco plan didn't include guaranteed base school assignments. Goldman did not return calls Wednesday.
Families still wouldn't have a guaranteed base school in the Alves plan. Instead, every family would have a "base option" they would have to exercise in order to apply to a school near where they live. Simmons said that option would likely be the closest school to a family's home.
But Simmons also said that crowding at a particular school or a conflict with other principles guiding the plan, could mean that a family wouldn't get an assignment to their "base option."
Distance counts

In all cases, the starting point for sorting out who gets priority for an assignment will be whether the family lives within 1.5 miles of the school. But the plan doesn't provide absolute guarantees on assignments.
Simmons said his group expects to present a detailed plan with cost estimates to the school board in December. Alves, Simmons said, was told not to increase transportation costs in his model.
Any student assignment plan eventually drawn up by the school board will have to balance goals that are factional priorities with a projected shortfall of about $100 million in next year's Wake schools budget.
"If there's a plan to improve stability, that makes it more palatable, but if it costs a lot more money, that's going to be a hard sell," said former Wake Commissioner Yevonne Brannon, with the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, a nonprofit group that backed the old diversity policy.
"I think this is going to cost more money. I'm not saying I'm against that, but we're going to have to figure out whether as a community we are prepared to pay for being more involved in decision-making."


Thursday, October 21, 2010

By voting we let political leaders know that we are a community that cares about our leadership.  Your vote is personal, our group does not wish to influence your choice in candidates!  However, it is imperative that you vote.  When elected officials have a town where a high percentage of the citizens are ACTIVE VOTERS, then they are much more interested in that community's needs.



Knightdale Recreation Center Large Multipurpose Room 101 Lawson Ridge Road, Knightdale, NC 27545

Friday, October 22 Saturday (11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.)

October 23 Sunday ( 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

October 24 Monday ( 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

October 25 - Friday, October 29 ( 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.)

Saturday, October 30 (10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)

A rift fractures the Wake school board's solid majority - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A rift fractures the Wake school board's solid majority - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

CARY -- In what could become the first significant split in the ruling Wake County school board majority, vice chairwoman Debra Goldman says she will vote against the board's student assignment plan if she continues to be shut out of the process, which she says leaves her unable to keep her promises to voters.
Goldman's stand on the emerging plan for assigning students to schools signals a widening schism among the five-member majority that has dominated board actions since late last year. It creates another complication for a bloc that faces lukewarm support from county commissioners in its own party as well as questions about its policy decisions from a national accreditation agency and a potential civil rights investigation from two federal departments.
Goldman, a Cary Republican, took office after fall elections last year that created a board majority consisting of incumbent Ron Margiotta and three other new members. The majority moved rapidly to set aside Wake's assignment policy that gave weight to achieving socioeconomic balance in schools; the five instead favored a policy that gives priority to assigning students within their communities. The ruling coalition put the design of the proposed plan in the hands of a student assignment committee led by majority member John Tedesco.
Goldman, who continues to support community-based schools, is not a member of the student assignment committee. She said she will not vote for a plan unless every student has the option to attend a magnet school, has a choice of a year-round or traditional school, and a guaranteed assignment based on where he or she lives.
The plan before the school board's assignment committee divides the county into 16 community school zones and emphasizes choice, stability and placing students in schools close to their homes. Instead of getting a base school, families would pick from a set of schools without a guarantee of getting their request.
"How can I support a plan that doesn't meet what I said I would do?" she said. "I don't have a voice; I don't have a vote until it comes to the entire board."
What her colleagues say
Initial response from Goldman's fellow Republicans was terse.
"We've seen Mrs. Goldman go back and forth on issues for the last few months," Tedesco said. "I want to see what she actually votes on six months from now before I get excited about what she says today."
Majority member Chris Malone is on the student assignment committee, along with Tedesco and minority member Carolyn Morrison.
"There's a process in place, and the process has to be respected; I'll just leave it at that," Malone said. "I'm not going to get into some kind of disagreement in the press with one of my fellow board members."
Board chairman Ron Margiotta said it was too early in the planning process for Goldman to be concerned about specifics.
"I'm the chairman of the school board, and I don't resent the fact that I'm not involved with every single aspect of what's going on," Margiotta said. "We just can't have every school board member on that committee, or it's no longer a committee."
Meanwhile, families in Cary have been flooding Goldman with e-mail and calls about the plan, especially from places where the proposed zones divide neighborhoods.
"She's getting pressure in her area about the bases; this is not what they voted for," said Anne Sherron, a nonvoting community member appointed to the student assignment committee by a member of the board minority. "The thing that I see her starting to realize is that she is not being listened to. When you are part of this majority and you aren't being listened to, it's time to stomp your foot."
Former board chairman Kevin Hill, a member of the board's four-member minority, all Democrats, said there's merit in Goldman's request for more information.
"There are questions that need answers to help shape the program, instead of building the program and finding out we don't have answers to these questions," Hill said.
A swing vote?
After nine months on the board, Goldman could cast a decisive swing vote against the plan before next fall's school board elections, which could result in a change in the panel's ruling coalition. But she said she hopes speaking out now will make that unnecessary. A potential break in the board majority would be the latest twist in a long saga that began with widespread parent dissatisfaction in the early 2000s.
Especially in suburban neighborhoods, families complained about frequent student reassignments, uneven access to magnet schools and an assignment plan that factored in families' economic backgrounds. Those complaining got organized and elected four candidates last fall who were determined to try a new way of assigning students.
Goldman doesn't support the economic-background approach, but she said she doesn't think the plan being drawn up meets the district's standards. Originally planned for introduction in the 2012-13 school year, the new student assignment plan could be put into effect as early as next fall if the board approves a plan in time.
"I could be quiet and wait for the vote, but I could let them know now that there are some issues so maybe things could be worked on," said Goldman, who said she would like to see a new plan in effect next fall. "Nobody wants to spin their wheels on something that's not going to pass."
Along with members of the board minority, Goldman is raising concerns that the plan under development could create more high-poverty schools, a category that increased under the old policy.
"We run the risk of some racial isolation," she said. "I don't want to see it get worse."
Goldman said the developing plan is dividing communities. She points to Cary's Lochmere area, which is split between parents who want their children to attend Athens Drive High School, which is 10 minutes away in Raleigh, and Cary High School.
"Parents are very, very anxious. I'm anxious, and I'm on the board, so that should tell you something," she said.
Despite her concerns about how the concept will be executed, Goldman said she's committed to the concept of community-based schools.
"Would I go back to the old way? No way," she said. "But at least you knew where your kids were going."
Deciding the details
Tedesco has said that the plan in play is fluid. Last week, the committee voted to make several changes affecting areas in Cary, including Lochmere, and other parts of the county. School board minority member Morrison voted against the changes, saying the fundamentals of the plan have not been agreed on.
Goldman could cast a "no" vote on the developing plan, or use her potential swing vote to change it.
"I'm assuming that she's very serious if she's making public comment about this," Hill said.
Goldman said she's asked repeatedly to be on the student assignment committee, which has no policies about how many members can serve.
"I just keep getting refused," she said. Tedesco and Margiotta have kept her from the committee, Goldman said, because her support of the majority is "not a guarantee."
What Goldman wants, she said, is for the entire school board to be on the assignment committee. In any case, Goldman's hesitation could slow down progress on the plan, a delay some critics of the board majority want.
"I don't count on her swing vote," said Patty Williams of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, which is critical of the new board. "But the process needs to be slowed down, and it needs to be data-driven, which it has not been."
Goldman's independent stance could mean complications for other board decisions, such as the controversial new high school being designed for Rolesville. Goldman said she had concerns with the school's design, which she will bring up at today's school board meeting.
"It's going to be an interesting day, I think," Hill said.

Grant allows high schools to share resources


KNIGHTDALE - A $43,000 award granted last week will enable Green Hope High School and Knightdale High School to participate in distance-learning courses with each other.

The grant, from the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, will allow both schools to develop video-conferencing labs, part of several new initiatives to improve student performance and achievement at Knightdale High School. Five students will take an Advanced Placement government class at Green Hope High School through a distance learning lab.
The distance partnership marks the first of its kind among Wake County high schools.
"It means that students here at Knightdale High School will be able to take AP courses that they were unable to do without partnering with Green Hope," Wake school board chairman Ron Margiotta explained before addressing Knightdale teachers Tuesday morning. "But it's needed," he said. "Knightdale High School, in my opinion, has been overlooked for a long time. The number of AP courses has been so limited here and that's been a disgrace."
The government class is the only AP social studies class Knightdale doesn't offer that Green Hope does, and Melody Solomon, Knightdale's Social Studies department chair, will serve as Knightdale's distance learning lab coordinator. Solomon will be in charge of making sure assignments reach their destination and lines of communication remain open between the Knightdale students and Michael Miragliuolo, who will teach the AP government class at Green Hope.
"It's already started," said Knightdale Principal Carla Jernigan. "The teacher has already come out to the school this summer to meet with the students. We're working with technology services at the central office level to set up all the equipment, and they've already done the training. They've come out and worked with the students also in getting set up with their Blackboard accounts, and being familiar with Wimba."
These technological platforms will enable the Knightdale students to receive and submit assignments.
Green Hope Principal James Hedrick said the partnership isn't intended to benefit his school directly.
"What we hope is the students at Knightdale High School will get something out of it by being able to take a class they couldn't take at their school," Hedrick said.
Hedrick said Green Hope students will benefit by being able to work with students from other parts of the county.
Hedrick said the seed for the program was planted this summer when Acting Superintendent Donna Hargens asked if he would be interested in partnering with Knightdale High on the program.
Green Hope offers about six classes in AP government and about 150 students take the course at that school.
That equipment could open doors for other classes and other schools in the future.
"We lost our Latin teacher a couple of years ago, but Latin is not an easy hire," Jernigan said. "We're hoping we can continue to expand this because we still have people who are interested in Latin, but (we're) not able to find a teacher. This is a way we can offer classes we otherwise could not."
Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan applauded the project that uses a resource - in this case a teacher - already in place.
"Perhaps this is a way to leverage the resources of both schools, have more AP courses through technology and save some money," Bryan said. "Hopefully some of these strategies that are being implemented here can be replicated, whether it's at East Wake High School, Garner, Fuquay or other areas of the county. I think it would be beneficial to the teacher having the opportunity to use this new technology in addition to teaching in the classroom. I think there's a potential advantage for the whole system as we're having more of this learning online."
Both Bryan and Margiotta credited the grassroots education organization Knightdale 100 for pushing this initiative and several others the school is launching this year.
"They are a very active group and have been continually pointing out the deficiencies in the high school. Finally their voices have been heard," Margiotta said. "All of the programs that are being implemented this year I think have created a lot of excitement on the part of the teachers, and motivation, and that will be reflected right down to all of the students and out to the community."
"They're putting our feet to the fire as elected officials and demanding success," Bryan added. "What they did in terms of really welling up from the community, as it welled up it brought out some of the concerns about teacher turnover, violence, academics - various concerns about what needs to be done to make this a school of choice. The school system has responded to that. After seeing all these concerns laid out, we're trying to put in place solutions."

Under new criteria, more take algebra - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

Monday, October 4, 2010

Under new criteria, more take algebra - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

KNIGHTDALE -- Enrollment has shot up 30 percent this year in Wake County middle school advanced math classes that are using new selection guidelines designed to rely more on test data and less on teacher judgment.
Data presented Thursday shows that 10,313 middle school students are taking pre-algebra orAlgebra I, an increase of 2,351 students since the last school term.
School administrators gave much of the credit to a SAS program, pushed by the school board majority that swept into office last fall, that is expected to increase minority enrollment in those courses.
"We are going to send thousands of students to high schools smarter," said school board member John Tedesco, chairman of a board task force looking at how to help low-income students. "We're going to have a positive impact on their lives."
Under old selection guidelines that relied more on teacher judgment than test scores, data from the SAS Institute showed that more than half of the qualified black and Hispanic middle school students in Wake were not put in advanced math courses. Taking those courses in middle school would have put them on track for top-flight colleges.
Administrators said there has been a 26 percent gain this year in pre-algebra enrollment and a 35 percent gain in Algebra I enrollment using the SAS EVAAS program. They reported 82 percent of the students identified as beingready by EVAAS are taking pre-algebra in seventh-grade, and 68 percent of the eighth-graders indentified as ready for Algebra I are in that class.
Previously, only slightly more than half of the Wake eighth-graders identified by EVAAS as being ready for Algebra I were enrolled in the course.
Elaine Hanzer, principal of Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School, which had been using the EVAAS program before most other middle schools, said the new guidelines have changed the culture of the school. She said she has gone from havingonly one Algebra I class in 2004 to five this school year.
"It's taken away a lot of the stigma of this being the fast team or the slow team," Hanzer said. "Now everyone is on the same path."
Ligon Middle School Principal Gretta Dula testified that one student with behavioral problems went from having a "D" grade last year in sixth-grade math to a "B" in pre-algebra after EVAAS determined he was ready for a harder class.
"When he was with his peers he didn't want to display it. But now he's in pre-algebra, he's raising his hand in class." Dula said.
Principals raised some issues, though, even as they praised the new guidelines.
Cathy Williams, principal of East Garner Middle School, said students in regular math classes are benefiting from smaller class sizes now that so many are taking advanced math courses. But she said those regular math courses are now largely populated by low-performing students who are labeling themselves as not smart enough to take harder courses.
"We are doing good things for kids, but it's something we need to pay attention to," Williams said.

Wake agrees on 16-zone concept for student assignment - Local - NewsObserver.com

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wake agrees on 16-zone concept for student assignment - Local - NewsObserver.com

By T. Keung Hui - Staff writer - News And Observer

RALEIGH -- A Wake County school board committee agreed today on the concept of dividing the community into 16 different zones for school assignment that’s expected to result in more children going to school near where they live.
The board’s student assignment committee picked a map based on current high school attendance zones out of four proposals developed by staff. The new map, whose boundaries would still need to be refined over the next several months, will likely dictate where the majority of Wake’s 143,000 students will go to classes in the future.
The new school board majority that swept into office last fall vowed to change the way children are assigned in Wake. The board majority voted this spring to scrap the decade-long socioeconomic diversity policy in favor of developing a new assignment model based on sending children to schools in their communities.
The change has led to protests and arrests at school board meeting by supporters of the old diversity policy.
Last month, the student assignment committee told staff to work on four different maps based on high school attendance lines, transportation zones, the regions run by each area superintendent and on planning regions used for developing school construction bond issues.
The board was faced with going with a plan that would have a smaller number of large zones that would have more diversity or a large number of smaller zones that would make it easier for children to go to schools closer to where they live.
Committee members agreed today to go with a plan with a lot of zones. Demographic data shows that the 16 zones based on high school attendance have wide disparities in race and on the percentage of children receiving federally subsidized lunches.
Committee members stressed that the boundary lines for the 16 zones are still being finalized and could minimize the disparities.
But in addition to the zones, the committee told staff to go ahead today with developing a plan that would divide the county into five regions. The five regions, which are more evenly balanced than the 16 zones, would provide additional choices for middle schools and high schools.

Knightdale High Launches New Initiatives for Students

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17, 2010 - Knightdale High teachers were greeted by community leaders and heard Principal Carla Jernigan talk about new initiatives on their first day of the 2010-11 school year.

Ron Margiotta, Wake County Board of Education Chair, greets teachers at Knightdale High on their first day of the 2010-11 school year.

The teachers were welcomed back to the new school year by Wake County Board Chair Ron Margiotta, Wake County Board member Chris Malone, Wake County Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens, Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan, Knightdale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Bryan and Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen.

Jernigan welcomed the faculty back with plans for new initiatives that involve the school’s Academy of Environmental Studies, the new Freshman Leadership Academy and a new 21st Century learning initiative where Knightdale and Green Hope high schools will jointly offer classes.

Jernigan explained that the principals of Knightdale and Green Hope high schools have submitted a $44,000 grant application to the Lowe’s Corporation to develop a videoconferencing lab at each school. This will allow the schools to jointly offer Advanced Placement and foreign language classes.

The Freshman Leadership Academy will provide a structured learning experience that will develop student leaders. Current 9th grade students may apply and 30-40 students will be selected to participate in monthly seminars, field trips and other learning experiences. The program will provide educational experiences in leadership development, communication skills, problem solving and team development. Students will meet and network with community leaders and develop skills for success in college, career and life.

The Knightdale Academy of Environmental Studies has 26 students who will have a monthly environmental focus. Students will participate in monthly meetings, quarterly field trips and will work on a yearlong community service project that they will develop. Students will be involved in interdisciplinary project-based learning and will visit community college and university campuses. Students will be career-focused, taking part in job shadowing with industry professionals and the WCPSS Xtreme Beginnings career fair.

The Knightdale High School Alternative to Suspension Program will work to keep students in school and focused on instruction. The program is geared towards students who have a history of facing suspension for tardy violations and skipping class. They will have a structured class where they will be expected to complete their coursework.

Jernigan said these unique opportunities and a devoted team of teachers will encourage students to seek academic success.

Drugs Uncovered--What Parents Need to Know

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Poe Center’s Drugs Uncovered: What parents need to know! is coming to Knightdale Town Hall, 950 Steeple Square Court on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm!

The Poe Center for Health Education, Knightdale Chamber of Commerce and Knightdale Parks and Recreation Department are challenging you – we want to see if you can identify any of the 70 references to drugs and alcohol hidden in a “life like” teenager’s bedroom. The bedroom is part of the Poe Center’s interactive program, Drugs Uncovered: What parents need to know! Drugs Uncovered will inform you of: current drug trends, teen culture, signs of substance use and abuse and much, much more. It will also give you the tools you need to effectively talk with your teens about drugs and alcohol.

We invite you to join us for this interactive session where we will explore current drug and alcohol trends in our community and strategies for equipping our kids with the skills they need to continue to make healthy choices. Participants will receive FREE materials including resources on raising drug and alcohol-free teens.

This program is FREE To parents and adults. So please join us at Knightdale Town Hall on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.


Or you may call the Chamber at 919-266-4603 or Knightdale Parks & Rec. at 919-217-2235.

Student Assignment Committee Receives First Sample Zone Maps

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Credit: http://www.wcpss.net/news/2010_july28_sample_maps/

July 28, 2010 - The first sample zone maps were presented to the Student Assignment Committee of the Wake County Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday, as the committee continued to develop a new method of student assignment to recommend to the school board. Assignment Zone Samples

John Tedesco, a school board member and chair of the Student Assignment Committee, worked with WCPSS Growth and Planning to meet an earlier request from committee members to compile a series of sample maps that reflect different ways schools may be grouped into zones.

The Student Assignment Committee composed of board members and their citizen advisors is beginning to look at the creation of zones where families would be assigned a seat in the schools in that zone. Tedesco said he would like to see families be guaranteed a seat in the zone and continue to have the opportunity to apply to magnet schools in other parts of the county.

At the meeting Tuesday, WCPSS Growth and Planning Senior Director Laura Evans presented a number of maps to the committee as samples to help the committee begin to consider ways of grouping schools into zones.

Evans noted the committee had indicated three criteria in creating these zones:

They wanted contiguous zones

That created community schools; and

Resulted in minimal reassignment.

Evans provided sample maps based on current zones used in Wake County and showed where school facilities are located in those zones. The maps included postal zip codes with 39 zones, WCPSS area superintendent districts with 7 zones, Wake County planning regions with 10 zones and WCPSS transportation districts with 15 zones. Evans said her office made some adjustments to the map of WCPSS high school attendance areas addressing the need for contiguous zones and grouping some schools together for another sample map labeled proposed zones. It had 16 zones.

The postal zip codes zone map was discarded by the committee because it created too many zones.

Tedesco said he would like to receive community feedback on the various sample maps, and the committee agreed it would be good to solicit feedback by posting the maps on wcpss.net. He asked the committee to identify issues with the different zones and information they would want that would define zones.

The committee asked staff to bring back academic information by zone for the maps. The committee agreed to meet again August 31.


Eastern Wake Buzz - Plans underway for two academies at Knightdale High School | newsobserver.com blogs

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eastern Wake Buzz - Plans underway for two academies at Knightdale High School newsobserver.com blogs

Idea intrigues Wake school board factions - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Idea intrigues Wake school board factions - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

RALEIGH -- Key members of the Wake County school board majority say they're giving strong consideration to an assignment approach called "controlled choice" that could replace its former diversity-based plan without creating high-poverty schools.
Members of the minority on the sharply divided board say the method deserves consideration, depending on how key details are structured. The development offers a window into the closely watched building of a new plan - and the possibility of common ground between the factions. They have been warring over the demise of busing for diversity as it is replaced by community schools.
A controlled choice model for Wake would create a dozen or more attendance zones, each of which would reflect the makeup of Wake County - no rich zones or poor zones, said Massachusetts education consultant Michael Alves, who's helped design dozens of such systems nationally.
Parents would be able to choose from a wide range of school offerings in their zone, with a lottery to make another choice when schools are too crowded or apply to a countywide system of magnets, Alves said. He will be in Raleigh on Tuesday for a presentation before the board committee charged with developing a new plan. Parents would not be guaranteed of getting their first choice, but in systems that use controlled choice, such as Lee County, Fla., and Cambridge, Mass., a large majority do.
"We've been looking at a number of plans from a number of districts across the country," board chairman Ron Margiotta said Wednesday. "He's very close to what we have in mind, to my understanding."
Before a meeting Tuesday that involved the arrest of 19 protesters, Margiotta pledged to a packed boardroom that any new plan would not create schools with high levels of poor or minority students. Margiotta said Wednesday the statement mirrored what members in the majority have been saying since taking office in December. He sounded themes of choice and stability, but turned heads at the meeting when he ruled out a new crop of poor, high-minority schools in Wake.
Concern that a new community-based system would concentrate mostly minority schools near downtown Raleigh has been at the heart of increasingly vocal protests by some parents, religious leaders and social activists in recent months. Members of the board minority and others who have resisted the forthcoming plan showed cautious optimism that a controlled choice system might maintain some diversity in the schools.
"I am very excited about his coming and am very excited about learning about different options," said Dr. Anne McLaurin, a member of the board minority. "All of us realize we want to do better by all of our children. My reservation about assignment by choice is that people will always choose not to go to the poor schools. The devil is always in the details."
Seeking a friendly voice?
The Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP and an outspoken critic of the dismantling of the diversity policy, said the decision to bring in the consultant appears to be little more than the board majority looking for a voice they want to hear.
"These five members, they came in with a playbook," said Barber. "What they're trying to do is, without a plan, destroy something that already is working and then go out and find someone who will say what they want."
Though he was skeptical about the board's decision to bring in Alves, Barber said the democratic process works on a free exchange of ideas. He said he hoped the board would also consider the NAACP's input, too.
About Alves' appearance, minority board member Kevin Hill said: "I'm looking forward to his coming to town and listening to him. I continue to look for the majority to reach out to reach to explore possibilities of how we can work more closely together."
Alves will speak at a meeting of the student assignment committee, which is headed by John Tedesco, an outspoken member of the board majority. Alves' principles are in line with the cluster assignment approach that Tedesco has presented publicly, using Garner, with its mix of traditional, year-round and magnet schools, as an example of one likely zone.
"By clustering schools together in a larger geographic area, we can manage them better without having to redraw lines," Tedesco said, echoing one of the tenets of controlled choice.
'Some good insight'
"I wouldn't have offered to give him so much of our agenda if I didn't think he could give us some good insight," Tedesco said of Alves, a widely consulted former Brown University professor who heads his own firm in the Boston suburb of Milton. His work helping school systems design assignment plans began in the early 1980s and has sometimes caused controversy, depending on the way individual systems have put it into place.
Efforts to reach board members Debra Goodman and Keith Sutton were unsuccessful Wednesday.
The consultant's appearance in Wake County is being paid for by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake Education Partnership. He will confer with both organizations.
"The position of Wake Education Partnership has been and continues to be that in a system that is growing as rapidly as ours, change is something that we all have to embrace," said Ann Denlinger, president of Wake Education Partnership.
"The fact of the matter is that the approach that we have been taking almost for 30 years never anticipated the tremendous growth that we have enjoyed in Wake County."
Denlinger said it should be possible to come up with a plan that offers stability and choice while protecting the socioeconomic balance of the schools.
Orage Quarles III, publisher of The News & Observer, is on the 29-member board of Wake Education Partnership.
Some Wake parents who have dogged the new board through its efforts to change longstanding board policies eyed the introduction of Alves' presence into the assignment debate with both interest and suspicion. Margiotta's remarks about not allowing the growth of poor and high-minority schools had already gotten their attention, said Lynn Edmonds, co-chairwoman of the government relations committee of the community group Great Schools in Wake.
"It made me feel like we were starting to make a difference," Edmonds said. "Since December we have been dismissed more often than not. Even if it was appeasement, it seemed that we are gaining momentum with our support." Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/07/22/592206/idea-intrigues-board-factions.html#ixzz0uRPoItNQ

2010 Preliminary Federal AYP Results by School

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New End-of-Grade Reading tests were implemented in 2007-08 in Grades 3 through 8.

These results are considered preliminary until they are certified by the State Board of Education.


KHS's future up for debate

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


KNIGHTDALE - Knightdale's top elected officials met with Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta recently to discuss programs aimed at boosting academics at Knightdale High School.

The discussion comes as Knightdale 100, an organization designed to promote academics in schools in eastern Wake County, has turned its emphasis away from a magnet school at Knightdale High to other innovative programs designed to strengthen academics.

"We met to bring him up to date on the efforts of Knightdale 100 and to encourage his leadership and the board's continued interest in finding solutions to academics in eastern Wake County, particularly at Knightdale schools," saidBryan, a Wake County commissioner who lives in Knightdale.

Bryan said he, Margiotta and Killen met at Cinelli's Restaurant in Raleigh on June 29.

"He's very supportive," Bryan said. "He said he'd be willing to take the lead between the school board and Knightdale 100."

Bryan noted four board members and acting superintendent Donna Hargens attendance at recent Knightdale 100 forums.

Knightdale and East Wake High School lag behind other high schools in the county on SAT scores and end of course testing. Knightdale 100, a grass-roots movement of parents and educators, want to change that.

Knightdale 100's Catherine Dameron said after a recent forum on magnets, members of the organization began to shift their view on just how tenable a magnet would be for Knightdale High School.

"(Wake school board member) Chris Malone, had originally asked us to identify what type of magnet we would like there," said Dameron. "Our purpose is to educate the community on the type of magnets and if they would like a magnet at all."

Dameron said after Wake County magnet coordinator Dr. David Ansbacher spoke at a Knightdale 100 forum on magnets, thinking began to shift. Before the forum, the organization had put up a petition on its Web site and received more than 100 signatures calling for a magnet school at Knightdale High, Dameron said.

Dameron said the goal is to attract the 540 students in Knightdale attendance nodes who attend magnets back to Knightdale High School. KHS has more students in its attendance district attending magnets than any other high school in Wake County.

"Magnets pull from a large range," Dameron said. "Once we get our base kids back, there's no where else to pull from. Broughton lost their magnet for that very reason. The base wanted to go there. I don't know if a magnet's the right way to go. We want a specialized program there."

Killen also said a magnet would not work at Knightdale High School. He said Wake County's "academy" model with a math, science, or bio-science academy that could reach as few as 20 students and as many as 50 is an idea that he, Bryan, and Margiotta discussed as a possibilty.

Wake-Forest-Rolesville High School has a construction academy. Apex High School has a computer technology academy, Sanderson, a finance academy and Southeast Raleigh High, an engineering academy.

Other ideas include a leadership academy, and an in-school suspension program, Killen said. Dameron said one idea being discussed is participating in a science, technology and math program through some type of partnership between Wake County schools and N.C. State.

"We all agree that eastern Wake County got the short end of the stick, and we need to address that," said Malone. We want to do the right thing. "We don't want to sit on it. We can't let this languish. We've got to act on it."

Algebra opens other doors

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

denise.sherman@nando.com or 269-6101 ext. 101

KNIGHTDALE - Over and over again last Thursday night, parents heard about the importance of taking algebra in the eighth grade.

Wake County Public Schools senior director for middle school math Ken Branch said Algebra I in eighth grade is a gateway subject.

Branch was one of five speakers at a forum sponsored by Knightdale 100, an organization aimed at improving education in eastern Wake County.

"It is clearly the path to success not just in high school, but in college and in careers," he said.

Knightdale 100 chose the topic because of an earlier forum when Wake Education Partnership President Ann Denlinger showed data from a SAS software program that showed more eastern Wake County students are qualified to take algebra in eighth grade than take it.

According to 2008-2009 data, 50 percent of those the SAS EVASS evaluation showed could be successful in algebra at East Wake Middle School took it, 50 percent at Wendell Middle and 65 percent at Zebulon GT Middle.

Knightdale 100's Catherine Dameron said educators are working hard to change those statistics, and that the forum was needed to bring emphasis on algebra so that parents understand its importance.

Dameron said both East Wake Middle and Wendell Middle plan to increase the number of students taking pre-algebra by 50 percent this year.

Branch said students need algebra in eighth grade in order to take higher level math in high school. But he also said algebra is no longer only the province of the college bound.

"Algebra matters to the electrician and the computer scientist," he said.

Branch said during the 2010-2011 school year, Wake County Public Schools wants to increase the number of students eligible for advanced math classes. East Wake Middle School Principal Nancy Allen said already 25 percent more children, or 103 students, will be taking Algebra in the next school year than this year. This year, 86 students were enrolled in Algebra.

Braska Williams, pre-college coordinator for math and science at North Carolina State University, said students are more likely to earn bachelor's degrees if they take upper level math. And the students who take higher math have a higher earning potential, he said

But the key to algebra readiness starts in elementary school. Branch told parents, end of grade tests and a teacher's professional judgment are considered when students are recommended for sixth-grade advanced math, which starts the ball rolling toward algebra.

In most cases, students must take advanced math in sixth grade to take pre-algebra in the seventh grade, a prerequisite for algebra I in the eighth grade.

Educators also use the SAS software to predict student success when they consider student placement at the end of elementary school.

Even if a student lacks the traditional methods for placement in advanced mathematics and scores well in the software assessment, the student likely will be placed in advanced mathematics, Branch said.

Branch said teachers are told if a student is borderline to err on the side of advanced placement.

Denlinger, who also spoke at Thursday's forum, said Knightdale 100 had "a noble cause" to make sure every child has every opportunity to learn.

Denlinger, who has twice been a superintendent of schools, said it was important to get students in pre-algebra in seventh grade. She also said schools need a sense of pride. Details like a well-cared-for school matter in instilling that pride, she said. There is a correlation between an engaging curriculum and behavior, though she said all behavior problems couldn't be overcome by an engaging curriculum.
Principals of more successful schools invest their budgets in core academic subjects rather than supplementals, she said.

Parents were told the importance of communication with teachers as they make recommendations that can affect the path of their children. Parents can change a student's course if he or she disagrees with the recommended path, Branch said.

Wendell Middle School math teacher Louise Bilenky said students do well in algebra if they can interchange fractions and decimals, skills parents can make sure their children are learning in elementary school.

Forum - Why is Algebra so important in 8th grade? (correction)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Knightdale 100 thanks Dr. Kenneth A. Branch - (Senior Director, Middle School Programs) for speaking and showing his slides stating the importance of Algebra being a gatekeeper subject. Dr. Branch asked us to provide a correction to one piece of information he shared: During the June 24th, K100 Education Forum, Kenneth Branch stated that 50% of Wake County Public School System 8th graders were taking Algebra I.  He sent a correction stating the wrong percentage was shared.  In actuality, approximately 33% of WCPSS 8th grade students were enrolled in Algebra I during the 2009 - 2010 academic year.

We thank Dr. Branch for providing this follow-up.  Please find the presentation slides here.

KHS student receives SECU scholarship

Friday, June 25, 2010

KNIGHTDALE - The SECU Foundation, funded solely by State Employees' Credit Union's membership, has presented a $10,000 four-year college scholarship to Amanda Danielle Mitchell, a senior at Knightdale High School.

Mitchell is the daughter of Glenn and Kimberly Mitchell. This scholarship was awarded for study at Appalachian State University, part of North Carolina's 16-campus University of North Carolina System.

The scholarship was given based on SECU's philosophy of "People Helping People," recognizing the recipient's community involvement, leadership skills, character and integrity, as well as scholastic achievement of maintaining a 2.5 or higher grade point average. The scholarship will be used for tuition and university approved educational expenses over eight consecutive semesters.

Why is Algebra so important in 8th Grade?

Friday, June 18, 2010

You did it! Town Hall Chamber Room seats were filled and great questions were asked on May 20th. School Board members went home with the unequivocal impression that education is important to Knightdale and Eastern Wake County. Our community members are pursuing step changes that result in thriving schools and leaps in student achievement. Since this forum, meetings have been taking place among School Board Members, Superintendents and town officials looking for solutions. Some of you have expressed interest in following up with School Board Members. This link (http://www.wcpss.net/Board/boeinfo.html) should lead you to their contact information. Consistent, kind and thoughtfully worded emails of inquiry on progress from numerous members of the community go a long way. The emails don't need to be lengthy or complex to be effective. Asking what we can do to help and extending appreciation for support can turn efforts of busy people to our issues.

The next step? We have an Upcoming K100 Educational Forum.

Why is Algebra so important in 8th Grade?
Thursday, June 24th, 7-8:30 pm
Knightdale Town Hall, 950 Steeple Square Court

If our children only complete the math courses we took in middle school, it could be to their detriment. Mathematics requirements are changing in Wake County to keep up with our technologically advanced world. Experts will share changes in WCPSS mathematics, how teachers are being prepared, how Eastern Wake County is faring and how to insure your children are on track for success. If you are a parent, grandparent or teacher of elementary school or middle school students, please consider attending this important forum.

Items to consider. Simply taking advanced math, such as Algebra I in middle school, has a direct impact on future earnings. Apart from any other factors, students who take advanced math have higher incomes ten years after graduating - regardless of family background, grades or college degrees. Additionally, taking advanced math has a greater influence on whether students will graduate from college than any other factor including family background. When searching for jobs that turn into healthy careers, one will find growth in math-intensive science and engineering jobs outpacing overall job growth by three to one. You may say, "I was never good at math and neither is my child." Consider this. When teachers were asked what factors may influence students' performance in mathematics, 41% of American teachers believed that innate intelligence was more important than studying hard, which was just the opposite of Chinese teachers. Poles show Asian education ranked in the top ten while American education is ranked twenty-fifth in the world. Last year, approximately 40% of Eastern Wake County students, with indicators showing they could have been successful in the course, were actually placed in middle school Algebra I. For the 2010 - 2011 school year, our local middle schools have doubled the number of students registered for 7th grade Pre-Algebra and have asked if the community would provide tutoring to support these students as they stretch themselves. Students do produce greater results when the bar is set high. Nine out of ten high school students say that if their high schools set higher academic standards and raised expectations, they would work harder. We hope to see you on June 24th.

Triangle schools rank among Newsweek's best

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Triangle schools rank among Newsweek's best

East Wake Gang Prevention Forum.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

There will be an East Wake Gang Prevention Forum held on Thursday 5/27/09 at 6:30 p.m. at Wake Chapel Baptist Church of Tar Heel Club Road. It only lasts a couple hours and it's worth at least that much of your time to be part of the effort to keep gangs from taking a toehold in our neighborhoods.

More info: http://www.easternwakenews.com/2010/05/26/7264/keep-gangs-at-bay.html

Knightdale may attract a magnet

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BY DENISE SHERMAN, Staff Writer/easternwakenews

KNIGHTDALE - Wake County School board member John Tedesco told a group of parents he favors an magnet program at Knightdale High School.

But Tedesco didn't go into much detail about how a magnet will work in his community school zone concept, beyond saying that he favors an International Baccalaureat type magnet for the eastern Wake town.
Tedesco, District 1 school board member Chris Malone and Dr David Ansbacher, senior director of the Wake County Magnet School Office spoke at a forum Thursday sponsored by Knightdale 100.
Knightdale 100 is a grassroots organization whose goal is program equity and excellence in schools in eastern Wake County.
Knightdale parent Susan Snotherly said she had read published reports that large numbers of Knightdale High School teachers are applying for transfers, and asked how to keep good teachers here.
Tedesco said an IB program could help because the model includes a lot of professional development which could be attractive to teachers. He also said the system should explore merit pay for teaching at challenging schools.
Tedesco relayed his idea of community zones that would include magnets and year-round schools in each of the community zones created under the plan, but he didn't offer specifics on how they would work.
Tedesco said the county doesn't have a diversity problem, but a growth management problem and that 1,320 nodes or attendance zones had resulted in "node Civil Wars."
Guy Blough, a parent and athletic director at Knightdale High School, asked Tedesco how community schools and magnets could be compatible.
Tedesco said he wants to address the lack of program equity in Wake County schools.
Malone, who represents eastern Wake County and Wake Forest, said he favored making Knightdale High School a magnet. He said Knightdale High School needs better test scores and more access to advanced placement programs.
Ansbacher said more students with Knightdale High School as their base school attend magnets than anywhere else in the school system.
He said achieving diversity and balance were goals of the magnet program, not academic achievement. Ansbacher said magnets schools are like cupcakes with the cake being core curriculum and the icing being the magnet program. Not everybody likes icing, he said.
Shannon Hardy, the moderator, said parents should let their school board members know what they want.
"We've heard all the debates," said Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen. "We are only about the excellence for our kids. We're not for what's before, what's after. We're here to give you a challenge - come work for excellence in our schools."

Meetings Across The County Focus On Wake Co. Schools

Friday, May 21, 2010

Across Wake County Thursday, schools were the focus of community meetings. One took placed in Eastern Wake County, the other in Western Wake.

At the Knightdale meeting, the talk was of magnet schools. A group called the Knightdale 100 is working to get a magnet school in that community, and it sponsored the Wednesday session at Knightdale Town Hall.
"Chris Malone has asked us to give him a recommendation as to what type of magnet we would like in Knightdale if that looks like a possibility," said parent Katherine Dameron, who was one of the estimated 75 people in attendance at the session.
At the Cary meeting, the concern was about what would happen to Wake County Schools now that socio-economic diversity is no longer the way kids will be assigned.
That session was sponsored by the group Great Schools in Wake County, which favors the diversity policy.
"I just want more information about the direction the school system is moving in," said parent Shawn Woods, who was one of about two dozen people at that meeting.
The man who used to do the planning and assignments for Wake County told the Cary meeting that the direction Wake schools are taking is misconceived.
"Trying to compare the distance students travel to school to whether or not we're getting the kind of success rates we want -- particularly with at risk students -- is a misnomer," contended Chuck Dulaney. "The two have nothing to do with each other."
But for school board members like John Tedesco, the debate over busing is now irrelevant.
"I understand some people are still living in the past," Tedesco said. "We're moving forward into the future, and we're building a new plan."
Referring to the meeting in Knightdale, Tedesco said, "We're here with city leaders and parents who are going to take our good schools and make them great."
Tedesco says the debate over school assignments may be over; but for groups like Great Schools in Wake, the debate has yet to be completed.
That group is planning another forum on May 27 in Raleigh, again to discuss what its speakers say are the disadvantages to neighborhood based schools.

Affluent exiting poorer schools in Wake - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Affluent exiting poorer schools in Wake - Wake County - NewsObserver.com

BY T. KEUNG HUI - Staff Writer

RALEIGH -- Hundreds of middle-class Wake County families are leaving crowded, high-poverty schools for magnets and year-rounds thanks to the school board's decision to quit using their relative wealth as a reason to deny their applications.
Now that those barriers have been eased, poverty levels are expected to increase at a number of other Wake County schools.
For the academic year that starts this fall, a majority of magnet applicants and more than 80 percent of year-round applicants have been approved now that administrators no longer have to maintain socioeconomic diversity in county schools.
Members of the board's majority say the new rules provide families greater education choices while filling hundreds of seats in magnet and year-round schools that had been left vacant.
"We've eliminated the discriminatory practices," said school board member John Tedesco. "We're using our available capacity. That's a good thing."
Others fear that the balance has tilted too much toward family choice and away from keeping poverty levels down at individual schools.
"This may be the start of more high-poverty schools," said board member Kevin Hill, a member of the minority faction.
Magnet schools have been a major part of Wake's diversity efforts for 28 years. The goal has been to attract affluent, suburban applicants to magnet schools that are mainly in lower-income areas, such as Southeast Raleigh.
Before this year, the selection was designed to give priority to applicants who wanted to leave crowded schools in affluent areas. Applicants in schools with higher-than-average poverty levels were placed at the bottom of the selection process.
The old barriers had the practical effect of also making it harder for middle-class families to leave higher poverty schools.
Complaints from parents about the fairness of the selection criteria helped elect four new school board members last fall who pledge to end the district's socioeconomic diversity policy. On March 23, the board voted 5-4 to pass a resolution eliminating socioeconomic diversity in filling magnet schools and year-round schools.
The board majority is scheduled to give final approval Tuesday to a policy eliminating socioeconomic diversity in assigning students to schools.
Under the new guidelines used this year, priority was given to applicants leaving crowded schools regardless of poverty levels.
At Fox Road Elementary in North Raleigh, 55 of the 86 magnet applicants who wanted to leave were accepted. Last year, only 22 of the 81 applicants were accepted.
One mom's quest
Stacy Robinson applied for her son to attend kindergarten at Millbrook Elementary School's magnet program despite hearing from several Fox Road parents who complained that their applications to magnet schools had been rejected in the past. Robinson said she wanted her son to go to Millbrook because she liked the school's International Baccalaureate theme.
"I was surprised to get accepted," Robinson said. "I kept hearing from all these other parents."
Similar turnarounds took place at other schools. For instance, 91 of the 142 applicants got accepted to leave Wilburn Elementary in North Raleigh compared with 29 of 97 applicants last year.
Poverty may rise
At the elementary and middle school levels, the percentages of low-income students is expected to go up now at schools such as Fox Road and Wilburn.
Some magnet schools, such as Bugg Elementary and Poe Elementary, are taking more applicants this year and are expecting to see drops in their percentage of low-income students.
It's the kind of change Hill said he worried would happen when diversity was dropped from the magnet selection criteria earlier this year.
"There has to be a balance between choice and what's in the best interests for education," Hill said. "The data and the research is pretty clear that all students benefit in a school that has lower poverty."
A parent's argument
Jennifer Mansfield, a critic of the old magnet selection criteria, argued that the new rules could force school leaders to do more to help the higher poverty schools. Mansfield said the old board was content with using magnet selection criteria to keep families from leaving high poverty schools rather than trying to do something to help those schools to encourage parents to stay.
"Maybe they'll try to address the issues at the schools instead of saying, 'Let's not let the parents go,' " said Mansfield, a leader of the Wake Schools Community Alliance, a parents group that backed the new board members.
While the rule changes seemed to favor more middle-class families wanting to leave high poverty elementary and middle schools, the data seem to show that the new rules also helped more lower income black families get into Southeast Raleigh High School. Administrators said the elimination of the diversity guidelines allowed them to add 435 magnet applicants this year at Southeast Raleigh, 261 more than last year.
The additional students are projected to increase the percentage of low-income students at Southeast Raleigh High.
"We're letting the Southeast Raleigh families go to the school nearer where they live," said Tedesco, the board member. "What's wrong with that?" Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/05/12/478395/affluent-exitingpoorer-schools.html#ixzz0njjcP47P

Students get boost for exams

BY DENISE SHERMAN, Staff Writer/Eastern Wake News

EASTERN WAKE COUNTY - Students taking AP and End-of-Course exams are getting treats to encourage them to do well.
"Kids like stuff," said Ericka Lucas, the principal at East Wake High's School of Arts, Education and Global Studies. Lucas saw evidence of that last year after handing out pencils with the school name on it and with an encouraging message before last year's EOC. "It was amazing how any kids who were absent that day came up and said, 'Where's my pencil?'"
"That small motivation can put them in the frame of mind, 'Okay I need to focus, here's what I know,'"she said.
So this year, Lucas is going all out. She's organized an EOC rally for May 19th, a week before exams start on the May 27. She's soliciting local businesses to give water bottles, gift cards and Mudcats tickets that will be given to the students on the day of the rally.
Students also will have a chance to vote on "teacher superlatives," Lucas said.
"Those pencils let me know," said Lucas. "It can be the smallest token, but they like it and they will respond to it."
The Knightdale Chamber of Commerce had a similar idea.
The chamber is putting together 48 goodie bags for Knightdale High school students who are taking the AP exam. Businesses donated gift items last week while students took the tests. They continue test-taking this week.
Knightdale 100, a grassroots education support group, is trying to get more students to take the AP exam at Knightdale High School. This year, they organized tutorial sessions during April and solicited for tutors from the community and refreshments for the sessions from parents.
"It's a way for them to say, 'Way to go and to support the students," said Tami Sakiewicz, PTA president and member of Knightdale 100.
"It's very beneficial for them to take that exam," said Sakiewicz. "They experience all the rigor that comes from studying for college exams."
Sakiewicz said the emphasis the organization put on the exam has paid off. Students benfitted from tutors in Biology and English - N.C. State college students and an East Regional Librarian. And the sessions spurred high school teachers to offer tutoring at school, she said.
Lucas said in addition to the EOC pep rally, the school is holding prep sessions for the exam called EOC jam sessions. The tutorial sessions after school or during lunch started April 26 and continue until testing begins.

Is it Knightdale’s turn for a magnet school?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Knightdale 100 Education Committee Community Forum  
Thursday, May 20th 7-8:30pm
Knightdale Town Hall, 950 Steeple Square Court   
Is it Knightdale’s turn for a magnet school? 
Forum Purpose: Tonight is the continuance of K100’s commitment to acquire the necessary resources for Knightdale’s students to be successful!   

Mr. Chris Malone, Wake County School Board
Dr. David Ansbacher, Senior Director of Wake County Magnet School Office
Mr. John Tedesco, Wake County School Board 
Forum Agenda

7:00-7:10pm Welcome and Review of April AP Tutor Action – Ms. Shannon Hardy
7:10-7:20pm Vision for Knightdale Schools – Mr. Chris Malone
7:20-7:45pm  Review of Magnet School Data – Dr. David Ansbacher
7:45-8:10pm Community Schools Model and Knightdale – Mr. John Tedesco
8:10-8:30pm Q&A facilitated by Ms. Shannon Hardy

Forum Facilitator:  Ms. Shannon Hardy – Parent and Knightdale Resident 

SUMMER FORUM:  How do we improve the social and academic discipline of Knightdale’s middle and high school students?

Students work to turn Neuse silver

Thursday, May 6, 2010

KNIGHTDALE - East Wake Middle School students became wildlife biologists last week and released shad they grew in the classroom as part of a "Silvering the Neuse" program.

"The kids are loving this connection to nature and this is just a good way to get kids aware of their natural environment and the world that surrounds them," said Patty Matteson, public affairs director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The program is sponsored by the service and the N.C. Museum of Natural Science. A grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation paid for 10 tanks for students to raise fish and release them in the Neuse and Roanoke Rivers. East Wake Middle School is one of five schools in Wake County that participated. The idea is to help students value the ecosystem and to learn the way scientists restore fish killed off from pollution. It also helps them have a part in replenishing the dwindling population of shad in the Neuse.

East Wake Middle School teacher Karen Curry heard about the program at a science workshop sponsored by Wake County Schools that she attended last year.

It struck a chord with Curry, who majored in wildlife fishery science at the University of Tennessee. Her husband, Bob Curry, is the chief of inland fisheries with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

"It's something that I appreciated and I wanted the kids to appreciate it too" said Curry.

She sold eighth-grader Zach Moore, who pored over a microscope in the classroom on Thursday, looking for shad embryos.

"It's not like a regular classroom," he said. "It's hands-on stuff."

For five days, students nurtured the 5,300 eggs in a red tank on the shelf in the back of Curry's science class. That included monitoring pH, ammonia, nitrate, chorine and the temperature and removing fish egg sacs that won't hatch. From 30 to 50 percent of them will make it to "fry" or young fish, said Matteson.

The name - silvering the Neuse - came literally from the way the river used to run silver, said Matteson. Up until the 1900s, so many shad were returning to spawn, they turned the river a silver color. Now, because of pollution, shad have diminished.

Students learned that the shad they release will swim to the Pamlico Sound and some will travel as far as the coast of Nova Scotia before returning home to spawn.

The study also incorporated some historical elements like how George Washington fed his troops shad from the Potomac and how slaves who were shad fishermen helped "build" the Underground Railroad and spy on Confederate troops from their prime spots on the river.

Shad was such an important part of communities along the Neuse that shad parties are still thrown there today, Matteson said. Curry participated in one in Williamston when she went on a camping trip sponsored by the wildlife service.

"There are so many connections with shad in our history," said Matteson.

One fact stuck with student Alma Matias, who is troubled by the fact that every piece of debris outside usually makes it to the Neuse.

"I try to pick up candy wrappers and trash and throw it in the trash can," she said.

Majority of violent Wake schools are middle schools :: WRAL.com

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Majority of violent Wake schools are middle schools :: WRAL.com

Raleigh, N.C. — A WRAL Investigation found that seven of the 10 most violent public schools in Wake County are middle schools, and many of those troubled teens may not get the help they need because of budget cuts.

The state formula to determine violence in schools is based on several factors, including possession of a weapon, assault, robbery and possession of an illegal substance.

WRAL redacted the drug possession numbers since that is not a violent offense. Once the drug numbers were taken out, the crime rate was higher in middle schools than in high schools.

1 East Wake Middle 33 1,057 31.2
2 Moore Square Magnet Midd12 473 25.4
3 West Millbrook Middle 22 890 24.7
4 East Garner Middle 27 1,111 24.3
5 Southeast Raleigh High 32 1,584 20.2
6 Garner High 43 2,238 19.2
7 North Garner Middle 22 1,152 19.1
8 Carroll Middle 14 785 17.8
9 Carnage Middle 19 1,083 17.5
10 Knightdale High 30 1,752 17.1

Wake schools’ senior director of security, Russ Smith, said there were fewer incidents of violence in the 2008-09 school year than in years past. He presented the following statistics, which do not include drug offenses, per WRAL's request:

Middle schools 2008-2009
311 incidents
30,983 students
Incidents per 1,000 middle school students: 10.03
Incidents per 1,000 high school students: 9.43

Middle schools 2007-2008
380 incidents
29,978 students
Incidents per 1,000 middle school students: 12.67
Incidents per 1,000 high school students: 8.48

"Middle school incidents have decreased by 21 percent, and the gap between high school and middle school students has been significantly closed," Smith said.

He added, however, that gangs are a contributing factor to some of the violence in schools.

"Gangs are an emerging issue and have been an emerging issue over the years. That is going to contribute to some of the numbers that you see," Smith said.

Programs help get kids back on track

Juan Almendariz, who was expelled from Garner Magnet High, says he knows he “chose the wrong decisions.” Now he is working to get back into the Wake school system by volunteering with About Face II Inc., a non-profit organization that helps youth and families in Wake County.

Darien Chambers, an eighth-grader on long-term suspension from North Garner Middle, is volunteering there as well. He says “being stupid” is what led to him getting suspended.

"I found out here that life is not going to be what you want it to be. It's going to be some ups and downs, but you can conquer it," Darien said. “I’m finding out that my choices do have consequences."

About Face is just one organization in Wake County that was created to help troubled teens and give them “a second change to succeed in life,” according to Director Robin Flow.

"Sometimes I think that having that extra attention means a lot to these students – being told that they are loved," Flow said. "And it's OK, you made a mistake, but let's not do it again. This is how we can do it differently. This is how we make a difference – tough love. We show a lot of tough love."

Leaders at Haven House say they have a common denominator – large numbers of middle school students with discipline problems.

“That’s a difficult age. That’s a time when kids are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be and who they want to hang out with,” said Michelle Zechmann, executive director of Haven House.

The organizations are also fighting for funds to keep the programs alive. State and local funding for those groups is being cut off because of the budget crisis.

"We don't know where the program will go from here," Flow said. "That's very alarming, because we are the only program in the Garner area that serves long-term suspended kids."

“Almost all of our programs have waiting lists,” Zechmann said. “When we look at that, there is a need out there in the community. When we look at cutting funding, we’re going to see bigger waiting lists (and) more kids not getting served.”

John Wall, the reigning Wake County Principal of the Year, said he is not ashamed that his school, North Garner Middle, is the seventh most-violent school in the county.

“I would submit that, as a principal of North Garner Middle, if I was included in that group it’s simply because I’m very vigilant in ensuring that the rules are enforced,” he said.

He acknowledges that there has been “an increase in gang activity” in the 12 years that he has been principal. To combat problems, Wall said he is firm but fair and requires every administrator to volunteer time with students.

“It’s all about relationships. Kids trust me, and I trust (them),” he said.

For Juan and Darien, the journey back is slow but not without reward.

“I know enough now for me not to do the things I did and not to hang with the wrong people,” Darien said.

* Reporter: Dan Bowens

It wasn’t broken, but Wake County ‘fixed’ it | The Chronicle

It wasn’t broken, but Wake County ‘fixed’ it | The Chronicle

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By Laura Keeley
March 29, 2010

Durham, North Carolina. It’s a real place, and we live here.

It is rather easy to forget, though, that Duke does not actually exist in a bubble—it’s part of a community, many communities in fact, and one of them is the Research Triangle that exists between Raleigh (Wake County), Chapel Hill (Orange County) and Durham (Durham County).

Alright, pop quiz time: How many of you are aware that a decision made by the Wake County school board last week is causing national uproar and has been blogged about by The Economist, written about in the Los Angeles Times, condemned by the NAACP and spotlighted on The Today Show? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume not many.

Here is the decision in a nutshell: Last Tuesday, the Wake County school board voted to end its socioeconomic diversity-based school assignment program that had existed since the 1970s. Now the board will move to neighborhood-based schools that will almost certainly leave lower-income students in the dust.

Wake’s diversity program has been hailed as a national model, and the American Association of School Administrators named then-superintendant Bill McNeal the National Superintendant of the Year in 2004. He has voiced his opposition to the new plan in the (Raleigh) News and Observer: “My fear… as I witness from the sidelines is that we’ll fall into the abyss with ‘have’ schools and ‘have-not schools,” he said in a March 21 article. “That breaks my heart that that could happen and would happen in Wake County schools.”

It is no secret that low-income schools struggle to perform at the same level as higher-income ones. The reasons are numerous, including the fact that low-income schools have trouble attracting high quality teachers, a higher teacher turnover and lower parental involvement at their schools and thus in their children’s education. In case the board members did not realize this, Charlotte County schools can provide a concrete example. Charlotte abandoned busing for diversity in favor of neighborhood schools in 2002. And surprise! The number of extremely high poverty schools has blossomed under the new policy.

“You don’t have to guess what Wake County will look like in four years,” Amy Nelson, a principal intern at a high poverty elementary school in Charlotte said at a panel discussion full of educational researches the Saturday before the vote. “You have a case study three hours down the road. It’s not pretty.”

Back in 1976, the Wake County school board realized what Charlotte knows now, and when Wake County and Raleigh City schools merged that year, the board sought to avoid creating these low-income schools.

The goal was to have no schools with more than 40 percent of its kids eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. Wake County has experienced an explosion in population recently and as the number of low-income students has risen from 20 to 31 percent, that target has been forced to slip. There are currently nine elementary schools where more than 60 percent of its students are free- and reduced-lunch eligible. However, the other 150 schools have fewer eligible students, and no school is overwhelmed with low-income kids. Furthermore, suburban kids have the option of attending one of inner city Raleigh’s award-winning magnet schools that offer advanced education in topics such as math and science.

This was the status quo since before we undergraduates were born. Like I said, the district’s superintendant was named the best superintendant in the entire county in 2004 (in case all you private schoolers out there are unfamiliar with this concept, just trust me, it’s a big deal). Now the district does not even have a superintendant because Del Burns abruptly announced his resignation in February. He was placed on administrative leave in March by the board because he gave media interviews—in other words, he was transparent and explained himself to the taxpayers who fund his schools—voicing his opposition to the board’s plan to end diversity schools. Oh, and get this—the decision to oust Burns for speaking publically was made in a closed meeting, the third secret meeting the board had held since February. Ironic, no?

And one more thing: The district is implementing this complete systematic overhaul at a time when there is a $20 million funding gap for next school year. The cash situation in Wake County is so severe that the district had to sell $125.8 million worth of federal fixed-rate bonds for building projects. But making this fundamental structural change to neighborhood-based schools will need to be researched and planning costs money, right?

Or maybe they won’t spend any money and just kind of shoot from the hip. That would seem about par for the course.

The catalyst for all of this (I’m assuming that you, like me, cannot see an obvious one) is the new right-wing school board majority that was elected in 2009. School board elections are held in off years, mainly to ensure that only people who care enough vote, so last year four new school board members, all Republicans, were voted in and changed the majority. They were voted in by 4.5 percent of the county’s electorate. Yep, four school board members, voted in by a whopping 4.5 percent of voters, combined with a fifth Republican board member to say “screw you diversity!” and destroyed a national model of public school success. In its place, Wake will set up a “have” versus “have-not” school system, right in the backyard of one of the most elite educational institutions in this country.

Laura Keeley is a Trinity junior. Her column runs every other Monday.

Please Save the Date (May 20th)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In an ongoing community effort to support Knightdale's school, Knightdale 100 would like to invite you to attend our public forum on May 20, 7pm at the Knightdale Town Hall (950 Steeple Square Court, Knightdale). An agenda to follow at a later date.

WakeEd - Discussing Knightdale High and the school budget today | newsobserver.com blogs

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WakeEd - Discussing Knightdale High and the school budget today | newsobserver.com blogs

Submitted by KeungHui on 04/21/2010 - 06:00 newsobserver.com

Ann Denlinger and budget issues will be on the agenda of today's joint meeting of the Wake County school board and county commissioners.

Denlinger, president of the Wake Education Partnership, will give an abbreviated version of the January presentation about Knightdale High School she had made to the Knightdale 100. It had so impressed County Commissioner Joe Bryan that he wants both boards to hear it.

The school board will then discuss the budget it adopted Tuesday, especially the request for $313.5 million from commissioners. It's the same amount as was requested last year.


School board chairman Ron Margiotta opened today's joint meeting by saying that he recognizes that the commissioners' resolution can be in conflict with the school board's new assignment plans. He said they'll meet to discuss it later but need to focus today on the agenda topics.

Read more: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/category/tags/Wake-Education-Partnership#ixzz0lkN0KdhZ

Eastern Wake Buzz - Good things connected to Knightdale High School happen on Facebook | newsobserver.com blogs

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eastern Wake Buzz - Good things connected to Knightdale High School happen on Facebook | newsobserver.com blogs

Submitted by dsherman dsherman@nando.com.
I wrote about a Facebook page recently that got a lot of people upset. The Facebook page aired frustrations and anger over the fatal shooting of Nigel Ellison, a Knightdale High School student.

I heard from people by e-mail who felt that writing about it gave Knightdale High School an unfairly bad reputation. Others wrote that writing about it could lead to more violence.

I don’t like it when bad things happen even when it makes for compelling copy. And so I was heartened to hear of another Facebook story from Knightdale social studies teacher LaToya Berry.

She told me that Jonathan Wall, a sophomore at Morehouse University in Atlanta, penned a thoughtful comment on Facebook about judging a Georgia public school math fest. About this time last year, over 5,000 1st-8th graders participated in the contest which was a combination of math and debate.

Wall wrote: The inequalities in education are something that I’ve always been passionate about understanding, and identifying the underlying factors of. Going to predominantly white schools on one side of town for grades K-8, and a predominantly black school on the other side for grades 9-12, helped me see more clearly the dividing line of educational quality. But yesterday, Saturday, March 28, 2009 I saw firsthand the overwhelming disparities that now plague America’s public schools.”

Wall went on to explain how the contest was judged and the results.

“I can’t even begin to describe the feelings and thoughts that raced through my heart and mind as I walked group after group of kids to the podium to be awarded their first place plaques…. Out of those 40 winners, only 3 were black. And two of them were on the same team. It troubles me that America’s Public Schools (AND PRIVATE, but that’s another situation) are still unequal and lack not only diversity, but equality in the distribution of education. Some try to blame it on the intellectual capacity of the kids, but that is definitely NOT the case. It all trickles down to the unequal distribution of educational RESOURCES. There is no reason for there to be such a wide gap in the academic skill-set of students in the same grade, in the same state.”

Wall’s Facebook comment ended up in an Atlanta newspaper. He was invited by nine civil rights activists and leaders from the 1960s to join them in creating charter schools for low-performing minority students.

And he’s gotten the attention of Georgia lawmakers and professors, impressed with his insights.

He was invited by the assistant superintendent of Georgia Charter Schools to serve as a principal of the day at a local school.

Good things do happen on Facebook and to Knightdale High students.

Read more: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/easternwake/good-things-connected-to-knightdale-high-school-happen-on-facebook#ixzz0lf17OIeH

Wake County School Assignments Out Today - Wake County - MyNC.com

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wake County School Assignments Out Today - Wake County - MyNC.com

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Wake Schools considers millions in budget cuts

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wake Schools considers millions in budget cuts

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WakeEd - Discussing the impact of community-based schools on real estate | newsobserver.com blogs

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WakeEd - Discussing the impact of community-based schools on real estate | newsobserver.com blogs

What impact will the community-based school assignment plan have on Wake County real estate and property taxes?

The "Cost of Schools Plan" is the title of the discussion forum that will be held Tuesday from 6-8:15 p.m. at the Hot Point Cafe at North Hills in Raleigh. Some of the names of the speakers should be familiar.

Speakers include Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen, who spoke at the Friends of Diversity press conference, and Wake Education Partnership VP Tim Simmons. His boss, Ann Denliger, also attended the Friends of Diversity event.

Anne Sherron, the District 6 board advisory council chairwoman and a member of the school board's student assignment committee, will also be speaking in her role as a realtor.

Sherron has repeatedly said, including at the March 20 Great Schools in Wake Coalition forum, that the new board's actions are causing companies not to want to relocate to Wake County.

Leaders of the Wake Schools Community Alliance were invited to attend as well. But Jennifer Mansfield, a member of the WSCA's steering committee, said she's not sure if anyone will be able to attend because of scheduling conflicts.

I don't know enough about the other speakers to say if they have a particular viewpoint about scrapping the use of the diversity policy.

The event is open to the public but you're asked to RSVP.

Read more: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/discussing-the-impact-of-community-based-schools-on-real-estate#ixzz0kzGMRwRg