Wake County Schools

Tony Tata
Wake County Schools

Wake County Schools superintendent Tony Tata may learn today if he still has a job.

Board members spent more than three hours yesterday in closed session. They made no decision. But Republican members who support Tata -- like John Tedesco -- left the meeting upset about where they were.

John Tedesco: In a closed session personnel item when I should be working on something like student achievement.

Families in Wake County will soon have to learn the particulars of yet another student assignment plan.

Our justice system is sometimes referred to as “retributive justice,” meaning when someone commits a crime, the response is to punish them. Now imagine a system where the focus is on healing, rather than punishment, one that allows the victim of a crime to experience a legal process that is interactive and engaging. That is the mission of restorative justice.

It’s a busy time for parents and students as many prepare to go back to school. It’s also an important time for decision-makers in the state’s largest school district.

Dave DeWitt: Wake County Schools have gotten plenty of attention the past few years, most of it unwanted. As the School Board has bickered over school assignment, calendar issues, and other topics, students have continued to perform above the state average. That has occurred despite the fact that Wake spends less per-pupil than the state average.

Wake County School officials are praising students and staff at 4 of the district’s elementary schools for demonstrating higher proficiency on test scores.

Dave DeWitt: The four “Renaissance Schools” are Barwell, Brentwood, Creech Road, and Wilburn. They’re located in different parts of the county, but all serve a predominately low-income population.

School districts are looking at every option to find funding for next year. This summer, a federal stimulus funding package ends, and could lead to teacher layoffs.

Dave DeWitt: Not every school district has what Wake County has a rainy day fund. Now, school board members are considering using a good chunk of the $35 million or so that’s in it to save 500 teacher jobs.

Under a new proposal from Superintendent Tony Tata, The Wake County Schools budget will shrink by $24 million next year.

Dave DeWitt: Even with the cuts, Tata says there will be no teacher layoffs. In fact, he expects to be able to give teachers a one percent raise - their first in four years.

Parents in Wake County are concerned about proposed changes to the school schedule.

Dave DeWitt: Superintendent Tony Tata says changes to the bell schedules in the district's 165 schools are necessary and would save 10 million dollars by making the bus system more efficient.

Tata Hits Milestone

Jan 30, 2012
Tony Tata
WCPSS

Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata has been on the job one year today. As Dave DeWitt reports, Tata has overcome a rocky start to earn the respect of former critics.

Dave DeWitt: The former Republican School Board majority hired Tata, and in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of the past several years, that means everything. In his introductory press conference last year, Tata tried to dispel the notion that he was there to do anyone’s bidding.

School bus
Dave DeWitt

Five members of the Wake County School Board were sworn in last night. The board majority is now in the hands of Democrats, after two years of Republican control.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Wake County School officials are holding information sessions for parents starting today. The five events are designed to help families navigate a school choice plan that will take effect next year.

The five information sessions will take place in churches, preschools, and town halls in an attempt to reach out to populations that may not be easily reached otherwise. One of the sessions will be held in Spanish.

wake bus
Dave DeWitt

Democrats have regained control of the majority on the Wake County School Board. Incumbent Kevin Hill defeated Republican Heather Losurdo in a runoff election last night.

Looking worn out and even slightly embarrassed, Kevin Hill greeted supporters last night after the final votes were in.

In the most expensive Wake School Board race in history, Hill defeated Losurdo by just four percentage points. He is the fifth Democrat to win this election season – a strong rebuke of the Republicans who held the majority the last 2 years.

The Wake County School Board campaign season is entering its final few days. It’s also a crucial time for the district’s long-awaited student assignment plan.

Wake Schools superintendent Tony Tata has worked for about 7 months on the specifics of the plan. He presented it to the school board earlier this week. A public hearing is scheduled for next Thursday.

The new student assignment policy in Wake County Schools is now in the hands of the School Board. Superintendent Tony Tata and staff members walked board members through the plan at a meeting yesterday.

If you’re the parent of an elementary school student, the new assignment plan will give you 5 options – and promise you that your child won’t be reassigned against your will. Among those choices will be a high achievement option, a magnet option, and others. How many parents get their first or second options remains to be seen.

The first of a series of public information sessions on the proposed Wake Schools student assignment plan will be held tonight. The sessions are designed to update people on the status of a new plan.

The presentations will be held at high schools throughout the county. Members of the student assignment task force will offer some details of the plan and discuss what it may mean for where kids will go to school next year.

Walnut Creek Elementary School
Dave DeWitt

Traditional calendar schools across North Carolina start today. It’s an especially anxious day at Walnut Creek Elementary in Wake County. That school is opening its doors for the first time – the first new elementary school to open in ten years with a large majority of students who are both high-poverty and low-achieving.

Burke County High Schools in western North Carolina will continue to be on probation. The decision by AdvancEd means the district avoids losing accreditation.

Wake County Parents are getting a chance to test drive one of the two proposed student assignment plans.

Tony Tata
Wake Schools

Educators across the state are reacting to the state budget making its way through the legislature today. 

 Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata prepared his budget on the premise that the state’s largest school district would receive 5 percent less than it did the previous year from the state. The current budget is more like 6 percent. But Tata isn’t complaining. 

Officials with Wake County Schools are visiting high schools across the county this week. They are holding public hearings on two very different proposed student assignment plans.

Tony Tata
Wake Schools

  Residents in Wake County will finally get a chance to review nine proposed student assignment plans. The choices will be posted later today on the schools’ website. The plans were developed by a special task force made up of school district staff.  Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata says it’s time for the public to get involved. 

Federal civil rights investigators are in Raleigh tonight to host a public-comment session on possible violations by the Wake County School system. 

The visit is part of the Department of Education’s investigation into the School Board’s abandonment of socio-economic diversity in its student assignment policy. The complaint that launched the investigation was filed by the North Carolina NAACP and other groups.

Tata
Wake School Choice

Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata says the task force he created to come up with a new student assignment plan is making progress.

Tata re-assigned 6 staff members to work on the plan full-time. He says they are working on specific plans now, checking to see how viable they might be.

Wake County high schools have been placed on “accredited warned” status by the agency that accredits them.

The AdvancED report (pdf) states that the school board has"created a climate of uncertainty, suspicion, and mistrust throughout the community."

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