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.


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