Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata released nine student assignment plan options Monday.
Tata’s six-member task force has designated two of the plans as frontrunners.
One, dubbed the Blue Plan, is a community-based choice plan (or controlled-choice plan). The Blue Plan does away with the current system of nodes and base schools and instead relies on proximity.
The Green Plan is much closer to the existing student assignment plan. It would maintain a base-school structure with a similar mix of calendar and magnet school options. Both plans leave the magnet system intact.
Residents can view all nine plans on the district’s website. They can even plug their addresses into a database for the Blue Plan and the Green Plan and find out their school options.
The Blue Plan
According to Tata and his task force, the Blue Plan measures up better against the 18 criteria in the task force’s rubric.
“The Blue Plan seems to be a better fit right now,” Tata said at a press conference on Monday. “The Blue Plan right now seems to give you a little bit better stability and elasticity.”
Under the Blue Plan, parents would receive between four to six school choices, not including magnet and calendar options.
Tata used his home address to demonstrate how it would work. The closest elementary school to his home is Reedy Creek, but the Blue Plan also provides the next four closest elementary schools as options. Tata would rank these five schools in order of preference.
Students who live in historically low-achieving areas of the district will be automatically assigned to “achievement choice” schools — schools with high academic success — not necessarily in close proximity to their homes.
Parents of such students would have to apply for a transfer for their children to go to a school in their area.
Any students could still apply for a transfer to a year-round or traditional calendar school if none are close. Transfers to magnet schools could also take students out of their immediate areas.
The Green Plan
The Green Plan offers fewer options than the Blue Plan but still focuses on proximity.
Under the Green Plan, Tata’s base option as a parent would be Reedy Creek Elementary. Unlike the Blue Plan, students living in underperforming areas would not automatically be placed in high-achieving schools, but those students would have priority when requesting transfers to better schools.
For students in high-achieving areas, no further options would be available beyond magnet or calendar choices.
Although the task force has theoretically given the Green Plan the same status as the Blue Plan, Tata clearly favors the Blue Plan. The Green Plan, he says, does not accommodate the district’s rapid growth.
Student assignments under the Green Plan may cause the same headaches as the current base-school plan. Students could still be reassigned when their base school has too many children in the node.
“If you draw a circle around a school, you’re going to have to break that circle again and again,” Tata said.
Crrent students would be unaffected by any new plan chosen. Current students will remain at their schools unless their parents choose to seek another option.
Students will fall into the new assignment plan when jumping from elementary to middle level or from middle to high school level.
Neither plan accounts for the estimated 9,000 students that would be displaced from schools with magnet programs.
“You have to look at where and why you send these students somewhere else,” Tata said.
Residents can provide feedback on the district’s website about all nine plans. Tata and his task force will spend the next two weeks holding nine public hearings, one at a high school in each of Wake County’s nine districts.
Tata plans to present the plans and public feedback to the board in mid-June.