At a press briefing Friday, Wake County Public School System Superintendent Tony Tata set mid-June as the target for presentation and approval of a new student assignment plan.
A six-member student assignment task force is examining six distinct courses of action before picking one to offer to the school board for approval. The most publicized of the proposed plans is the Wake School Choice Plan, or Alves plan, which features a mix of base schools, magnet programs and traditional and year-round calendar options for students similar to those available now.
Last year the conservative board majority dropped the district’s decade-old policy of reassigning students based on socioeconomic status. A comprehensive retooling of the assignment policy began shortly after Superintendent Tata took office in late January.
Tata has also made racial and ethnic diversity in the teaching force another major priority. Although the district’s student population is roughly 50 percent non-white, only about 16 percent of its teachers are in minority groups, Tata said.
“It’s about hiring the right people for all of our children to have the right kind of role models as they grow and learn,” Tata said.
To meet this goal, Tata cited recruiting efforts at historically black colleges and universities and in high-density Latino states such as Florida and Texas.
Wake Superintendent Anthony Tata answers questions during the new monthly online Town Hall meetings.
With an increase in the number of school bus accidents in the first two months of the calendar year, Tata said he will establish new efforts to promote safety in district transportation.
In addition to new mandatory monthly safety trainings for bus drivers run by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Tata has initiated review of the Transportation Review Board, which investigates every accident.
Tata is quick to emphasize that the selection process for district bus drivers is more rigorous than required by the DMV. Only 40 percent of driver applicants are accepted.
As he enters the final third of his 90-day plan for the beginning of his tenure at Wake County, Superintendent Tata is pitching himself as involved and engaged with the community.
Aside from visiting 63 schools in the first 61 days after his appointment and spending time in each board member’s district, Tata has begun a series of weekly press briefings and monthly virtual town hall meetings.
On Friday beginning at 9:45 a.m., parents, students and other community members were invited to post questions on a live chat site linked to the district’s home page. By the time the town hall officially began 10:00 a.m., over 40 participants had posed queries about numerous topics, ranging from AdvanceEd accreditation to dropout rates.
If readers have any questions to ask Superintendent Tata, Raleigh Public Record will gladly ask them for you at the next Friday press briefing. Post your questions to the comments section or visit the Record on Facebook or Twitter.