Wake County School Board

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State Lawmakers' 2013 finagling with the Wake County election maps made it possible for high turnover on the largely Democratic school board this election. Voters weighed in on all nine school board offices. But six out of seven running incumbents kept their seats on Tuesday. Three ran unopposed, and three others won handily against their challengers.

Two maps show new boundaries for Wake County Schools starting in 2016.
Wake County Board of Education

Candidate filing begins today for the Wake County Board of Education, and all nine seats will be on the November ballot.

Board-member turnover is likely, since all but one of the school board members will find themselves in the same district as another incumbent.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

About one out of ten black students in Wake County’s Public Schools were suspended last school year, according to an annual report presented to Wake County School Board members on Tuesday.

Black students accounted for 63 percent of Wake’s total suspensions, while making up about of fourth of the overall population. Black students also made up 59 percent of Wake’s individual suspensions.

The Durham County Board of Education passed a resolution demanding the legislature repeal the A-F grading system.
Jess Clark

UPDATED Dec. 4, 2015

Friday was the deadline for schools and districts labeled low-performing to submit their improvement plans. State law has designated 581 schools as low-performing based on student test scores. But some districts are speaking out against the A-F school grading system and lawmakers’ moves to toughen it.

A picture of a sale sign in front of a home.
myguysmoving.com / Flickr

The switch to a year-round calendar for 22 schools in Wake County may have hurt some home prices, according to a new study out of Elon University and RTI International. It looked at how home prices changed after Wake made a controversial decision in 2007 to convert 22 schools to a year-round calendar.

Image of the jacket cover image of The End of Consensus
UNC Press

School board elections usually garner little public attention, but in 2009, media outlets across the country were covering the contentious school board election in Wake County. The election occurred against a backdrop of increasing concerns over student assignment policies, tremendous population growth, and the rise of the state’s Republican party.

Ballot Box
Wikipedia

North Carolina Republicans want to continue tweaking voters' experience at the ballot by allowing candidates for the Supreme Court and local school boards to publicly run with the support of their political party. 

A state legislative committee on Tuesday gave the first nod to two proposals that would make partisan the races for the state’s two highest courts—the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals—and the state’s 115 school districts.

While Democratic resisted a bill making judicial races partisan, it was the plan for local school board races that split Republicans.

a teacher in a classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

When North Carolina charter schools were first imagined in the mid 1990s, there were two big dreams: The first was to create something different, a sort of hotbed of innovation. The second was to take all of that new thinking – at least the stuff that worked – and share it with traditional public schools.

“But the second half of that never occurred,” said Jim Merrill, superintendent of Wake County Public Schools.

high school students
Vancouver Film School via Flickr/Creative Commons

Wake County School leaders hope to spend millions over the next few years to help support their high-poverty schools.

Officials identified 12 “high-needs” elementary schools earlier this year that will receive extra resources like professional development and more pay for teachers.

“One immediate need that we saw in a lot of the schools had to do with vacancies,” said Cathy Moore, Wake's deputy superintendent for school performance, at a recent school board meeting. 

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

Wake County school leaders said Thursday that the state’s decision to eliminate funding for driver’s education could put students at risk and lead to higher costs for families and taxpayers.

This summer, state lawmakers passed legislation to eliminate the $26 million school districts now receive to fund the program. That means starting next July, when the new fiscal year begins, districts will have to find other means to cover program costs.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a lawsuit challenging Wake County’s school board election maps.

The Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice is challenging the 2013 redistricting on behalf of a handful of Wake County residents and two local organizations. They argue that the new districts drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly disfavor urban voters.

House Under Construction
Dave DeWitt

 Members of the Cary Town Council are calling on county officials to help address the issue of overcrowding in Wake County public schools.

Earlier this month, the council tabled a request to rezone about 58 acres in west Cary that would have created 130 new homes.

Some members say they don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the plan just yet – at least not while many of the nearby schools are at or above capacity.

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

Wake County officials are drafting new plans to reassign some students next school year.

School reassignment has been one of the most contentious topics in the Wake County school system. Officials didn't make any assignment changes last year for the current school year because only one new school opened up.

But 17 new schools are slated to open in the next few years to keep pace with the fast-growing county.

“Twenty-two babies are born every day in Wake County hospitals,” said school board member Christine Kushner. “That’s a kindergarten class born every day.”

monikaforschools.com

Host Frank Stasio talks with Monika Johnston-Hostler, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Wake County School Board Member. 

Broughton High School teacher Lee Quinn speaks out against the 25 percent mandate.
Dave DeWitt

Durham school board members voted unanimously yesterday to join a lawsuit that challenges the elimination of teacher tenure and replaces it with a selective performance pay system. 

Broughton High School teacher Lee Quinn speaks out against the 25 percent mandate.
Dave DeWitt

On Thursday nights, some Broughton High School teachers get together after school. And while other days might be spent collaborating with colleagues or coaching a team or tutoring students, this meeting is different. They are coming together to write letters to Legislators – explaining that they are unhappy, unappreciated, and unified.

For many, the State Legislature ending tenure and replacing it with a plan that will give bonuses and four-year contracts to the top 25 percent of teachers - if they relinquish their tenure rights now – was the last straw.

school bond
Dave DeWitt

The Marching Trojans from Garner Magnet High School aren’t marching this morning – they are sitting, and practicing, in the band room. Their bags and instrument cases are stacked in every corner of the tiny space, on pockmarked floors and against cracked walls.

After band class, many will make their way across a grass-less, uncovered field to the temporary, modular cafeteria. Or as they call it here, the “Trailer-teria.”

John Tedesco
Wake County Public Schools

The past few years on the Wake County School Board have been marked by controversy. Republicans came into power in 2009 and board member John Tedesco led the charge to eliminate the school assignment program, sparking outrage and national attention.

wake bus
Dave DeWitt

Most traditional-calendar public schools open their doors to students starting this morning. In Wake County, all will be on its extensive transportation system.

Last year was, by most anyone’s standards, a disaster for the bus system in Wake County. Hundreds of students were late for school, stranded at the wrong bus stop, or simply not picked up. It came about because buses were removed from routes to save money when implementing a choice-based student assignment plan.

wake bus
Dave DeWitt

The Wake County Republican Party is opposing bond referendums for Raleigh transportation and public school construction projects. 

Voters will decide in October whether to approve $75 million in improvements to sidewalks and roads as well as traffic calming projects in Raleigh.  The Wake GOP executive committee says it voted to oppose that bond due to the city's accumulating debt. 

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The last time Wake County voters had a chance to decide on a nearly $1 billion school bond, they passed it. That was seven years ago. But in 1999, a school bond failed, due to concern over higher taxes.

That mixed history has school leaders on edge. They say a new bond is essential to serving the district’s 150,000 students. Another 20,000 are expected within the next five years. They hope to build 16 new schools and make major renovations to other building to deal with that growth.

School bus
Dave DeWitt

The North Carolina House has voted down a bill that would have handed over school construction and maintenance responsibilities to the Wake County Commissioners.

The bill would have taken that responsibility away from the Wake County School Board. Supporters argued that the county commissioners have more experience in school construction. Opponents warned that the Legislature should not set a precedent in a local dispute.

John Tedesco
Wake County Public Schools

Today was the final day to file to run in the election for Wake County School Board, and at least one prominent incumbent will be leaving the Board.

John Tedesco has been the highest-profile board member since he was elected in 2009. He led the Republican effort to end Wake County’s student assignment plan that diversified schools based on family income.

Tedesco, a Republican, announced earlier this week that he will not seek a second term. Democrats re-took the majority on the Board in 2011 and scrapped the choice plan that replaced the diversity plan.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools police patch
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Wake County’s sheriff, Donnie Harrison, is urging the School Board to create its own police force.  Harrison made the comments as part of a report to the Wake School Board on school security.

He says school security issues are more important now, six months after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

James Merrill
Wake County Public Schools

As homecomings go, this one was slightly delayed for James Merrill. He spent 16 years in a variety of administrative posts in the Wake County Schools in the 1980s and ‘90s, rising as high as associate superintendent. Once he became the top candidate earlier this month after a series of interviews and public events, it took another few weeks to iron out the contract details.

He says it was worth the wait.

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