Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata hit his 90 days on the job mark this week. At a press conference Friday, Tata said he was making progress on the five goals he had set out for his first 90 days.
One step that the public anxiously awaits is the development of a new comprehensive student assignment plan.
Last week, Tata set mid-May as a target for releasing nine plans developed by his six-member student assignment task force. The plans, he said, ranged from complete free choice to a strictly neighborhood plan, with gradations in between.
On Friday, he further clarified how the district will release the plans to the public.
Using 18 criteria, the task force has chosen two plans it feels would serve the district’s needs best. Parents will be able to plug in their addresses and other information to determine how each of the two selected plans would affect their children.
Tata reported that Michael Alves, the educational consultant who developed the Wake School Choice Plan, or Alves Plan, has continued his involvement in the student assignment process. His inclusion suggests that the Alves Plan, perhaps with modifications, could be on the table.
The task force will also publish the other seven plans on the district’s website, but without the same data functionality.
Tata said public input could cause the task force to reevaluate plans it has dismissed.
“If the public comes and says, ‘We really, really like Option 6,’ and there’s a tipping point, of course we’ll listen to public feedback and maybe attractive features we’ll put in the other plan, or go back to the drawing board,” he said.
Recruiting Minority Teachers
As part of his goal to recruit, retain and train high-quality teachers, Superintendent Tata has made a special push to recruit educators from minority groups.
Although the district’s student population is roughly 50 percent non-white, only about 16 percent of its teachers are in minority groups.
Tata estimated that non-white teachers have signed 40 to 50 new contracts as a result of recruiting efforts at historically black colleges and universities and in the high-density Hispanic/Latino states of Texas and Florida.
At the regular Friday press conference, Tata took stock of this time and trumpeted the achievement of goals on his 90-day plan.
“After 90 days I’ve visited 91 schools,” he said. “I’ve put 8,000 miles on my car driving around this fantastic county. That’s more than two cross-country trips all inside Wake County.”
On his visits, Tata estimates that he has met more than 1,000 of the district’s teachers.
Tata said that he has also met with 52 local organizations and attended 58 events, in addition to spending half a day with each school board member in his or her district.
With weekly press briefings and monthly virtual town hall meetings, Tata said he has made a concerted effort to be accessible.
“These first 90 days have frankly been a humbling experience,” he said. “I’ve walked halls and spoken with thousands of students and teachers. Despite all the challenges out there, people are taking a lot of pride in the district and rightfully so. I intend to increase that pride every day. I believe this district is the crown jewel of this community.”
Tata’s 90-day plan outlines five broad goals that focus on student achievement and efficiency.
Each of the five goals is divided into action steps required to meet the goal.
While Tata and his staff have completed most of the action steps, a few remain in progress.
Look at Tata’s 90-day plan: