Monday, January 29, 2007

School Board Elections - A Change is Needed

Since students in Wake County are likely to attend a school outside of their local School Board member's district, the way School Board members are elected needs to be changed. As it is now, you can only vote for candidates who are running in the Wake County district in which you reside. That means that if you live, for example, in northwest Wake County, but have a child who attends a school in eastern Wake County, you cannot vote for the School Board member who represents your child's school. Consider this bit of history:

Prior to 1976, School Board members were elected at large - the city and county systems were separate. As plans were made to merge the two systems into one, "the county feared Raleigh would take over the school board and have all the control" (Al Adams, former House member). A clause was included in the merger law to elect board members by district. The NC General Assembly gave final ratification to the merger bill (House Bill 1199) on June 25, 1975. One year later the Wake County Public School System was officially created.
[from "A Community United", Wake Ed. Partnership, 2006]

Don't you think that THIRTY years is long enough to wait to go back to county-wide elections? I think this is significant because we are no longer in a new merger situation. I'm not sure whether at-large is best now, or a system like we have for electing County Commissioners (candidates still have to reside in their respective districts, but are elected county-wide), but it needs to be changed! Shouldn't be a problem since School Board members aren't afraid of change (like they say we are)!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Letter to County Commissioners - With a Correction for My Jan. 23 Letter to Legislators (Scroll Down)


I stand corrected on some information that I sent to you earlier this week. On the matter of who will pay for the electric and natural gas expenditures for Wake County's additional mandatory year-round schools, I am mistaken. After a conversation with someone in the office of county budget, I came to find out that in our situation, Wake County actually covers those costs for the public schools, not the state. Since I am practically paranoid about the accuracy of my facts, and thought I had checked behind myself enough, I humbly offer my apology for the faulty information. The confusion came in what specifically falls under "operating expenses" and what falls under "maintenance of plant." I have learned a lot, but am sorry I had to do so at the expense of your valuable time!

So - what that means is that the expenses in my last email are the county's responsibility - an estimated quarter of a million in energy costs alone for only 2 summer months (not even based on the hottest ones) for the 26 additional year-round schools that are to open in the '07-'08 school year. Not to mention all of the new schools in the future that are slated to open MYR. I know they say we will save on construction, but those of us who believe that seats can still be found in existing traditional and/or year-round schools don't buy that.

Is there some way to use this information to delay the School Board's vote on February 6th? Wishful thinking? They need to do much more research and be "up front" with the tax payers on additional expenditures. I think what "gets me" as much as anything is hearing School Board members say, "It's too late to change now." Besides having months/years of notice that citizens would never stand for this (and why), they were presumptuous enough to start the conversion process last September, long before the bond even passed! You may recall this one email I sent in early October where a teacher friend talks of this school year being a "wash" because everyone is "scurrying around" to prepare for next year: (go down to first quote). This week I heard from a teacher at Rand Road who wrote the following:

"What is going on?? What is the most pressing thing I can do right now? We just got an email about more conversion stuff....the building being open on w[eek]ends so people can come in and throw out and purge....b/c the carts are on the way (year round carts).....

What will be happening at the CC and BoE meetings? I am still holding out hope and praying!!"

Has the School Board even definitely told the public exactly where they will get all of the money for these conversions that they are currently setting up? So many questions!

The School Board members are determined to "pass the point of no return", when they are the very ones who rushed to put things in place just so they could make that claim. I thank all of you so very much, and hope that at some point the School Board will be confronted on these matters by someone to whom they will have to be accountable! As you know, this is far, far from over...Sorry this is so long!



Wednesday, January 24, 2007


From the N&O WakeEd blog today:

"By a 5-3 vote Tuesday, the school board adopted the 2008-09 calendar for year-round schools. The split vote was due to the recommendation that school be held on Memorial Day.

“At a time when this country is at war, I can’t get over having school on Memorial Day,” said board member Carol Parker.

Board member Ron Margiotta asked for alternatives to Memorial Day."  Horace Tart cast the other dissenting vote. Read the entire posting here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NBC 17 News Tuesday Night - More on Reassignments

One mother plans to let her 3 children speak at the last public hearing on reassignments, Wednesday night in Knightdale.

My Letter To Local General Assembly Members

Dear Senator ----------,

I had hoped to get this to you before the General Assembly had started back, but now I must apologize for adding to your correspondence pile!

As you know, the debate concerning the forcing of year-round school attendance in Wake County continues to escalate in intensity. You already know how I feel about the subject, and that I base my opinion both on research and on personal experience and insight gained as a parent and former teacher.

I know this is a terribly busy time for you, but I think you'll agree that the following information is important. It has taken awhile, and I finally had to go through Superintendent Burns, but I have some real data on electrical and natural gas costs for year-round schools. I share this with you because Wake County's attorney, Michael Ferrell, indicated in a recent memo that, "Generally the State pays for annual operating expenses [for public schools]."

I have studied and studied this data, and have come up with what I think is a fair - and conservative - piece of information. That is:

If the current plan by the Wake County School Board succeeds, approximately 26 additional schools will open on a mandatory year-round calendar this-coming fall of 2007 (22 conversions, 4 new). The electric and natural gas expenditures for just TWO summer months in these year-round schools, will cost the state of NC approximately a quarter of a million dollars in EXTRA expenditures. That figure is based on a comparison of actual costs in a comparable traditional school and year-round school here in Wake County. It was not even based on costs during the hottest months of the year - July and August. These are costs that will never go away, and will only increase with time. Also, since other school systems look to Wake County as a flagship, if they should start adding year-round see where this could lead.

I would ask that you please consider data such as this ( just one example of many) and join with me and other concerned citizens in urging the Wake County Board of Education to stop and research (as well as make public) all real repercussions of forcing year-round school attendance. History shows that they are headed down a proven path of failure. Even though this will not affect my own child at school, she will suffer, as will all of us, the many negative consequences that hide beneath the cover of promotional rhetoric. There are other options, a combination of which would be much less disruptive county-wide.

As always, I thank you for your time and interest in this vital matter.


Louise Lee

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Warning: Don't Click on the Following Links if You're Already Upset!

Liza Weidle wrote an article in the January 10 N&O entitled, "Relax, You Can Handle Year-round"  

Patti Head wrote a letter to the editor in today's N&O entitled, "Facing Realities of Schools' Growth"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

We Tried To Tell Them

Some of you might remember the following letters I posted in the fall, the first on the morning of election day, and the second on October 19. If you have time (they're long) go back and read them. It's interesting to see how very relevant they are to what is happening right now. These are only two examples (out of many letters that citizens like you wrote) which prove that our current situation was foreseeable and predictable --- but of course, the School Board wouldn't listen then, either...

What Next? Food for Thought

What to do now? I don't have the magic answer, but here are some of my thoughts. If you agree, join me in suggesting these ideas to School Board members, County Commissioners, and General Assembly members. I think it will take a combination of options, but that Wake's immediate growth "crisis" can be handled without drastic actions. Consider:

**Ask our General Assembly members to grant a temporary waiver on class size restrictions. Unless I'm missing something, this would be a quick way to provide some seats for '07-'08 until new schools can be built. Urge County Commissioners and the School Board to press for this as well.

**Keep mobile units/modulars at schools where they are currently housing students. Why move them and decrease capacity at those schools?

**Teachers, don't hate me for this one - remember, I'm still one of you at heart! Increase the number of "mobile" (as in using a cart to travel from class to class) art and music classes. Use their rooms for regular classrooms. Not a happy thought, but it does work, and is already the case now in many schools. At the Committee of the Whole BOE meeting this week, Chuck Dulaney offered the following insight. He said, according to the notes I jotted down, that 20+ students at each of Wake County's elementary schools would have seats if art and music teachers were mobile. At schools where art and music teachers each have a room, it seems like it would free up more than 20 seats, but that's just my limited brain power at work. Of course, that would only need to happen at schools that needed the extra space.

I'll add more ideas as they come to me, but these three are do-able short-term and low on the disruption scale.

I will suggest today to the Wake County School Board that they instruct the Administration to study these and see how many of the 4,500 seats (their number keeps changing) this would take care of.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Vote if You Can

Here is a new poll on MYR schools, put out by NBC 17:

My Letter To Commissioners Gurley, Coble, Bryan, and Gardner

Dear Commissioner --------,

I don't know how to even begin to adequately express my thanks to you for standing up for what is right, knowing full well what that action would mean. You and the other three Commissioners who voted for a wiser spending of taxpayer's money, have sent a message to the citizens of Wake County that will never be forgotten.

What we heard was this: you will listen to your constituents and make every effort to hear both sides of an issue; you will not ignore valid facts and research, and will press to learn more; you will not buckle-under to pressure from "the powers that be"; and you will face ridicule, personal attacks, etc. rather than compromise the truth.

I know the "spin" has already begun on what has transpired over the past few days. I also know that things will probably get worse before they get better - but they will get better. I attended the School Board's Committee of the Whole meeting yesterday, and was appalled by the discussion that took place. The citizens of Wake County have approached Board Members for years warning them of the repercussions if they tried to force a year-round calendar on parents. I know I have personally shared mounds of irrefutable data, studies, etc. showing why this would not work - and why concerned citizens would never just sit by and let this happen. For the School Board to say that they are "shocked" and that it is now too late to make changes is truly a "cop-out". They (you know which ones I include) have brought this time-crunch upon themselves by not listening to warnings and offers of help - over and over - for months and years. They presumptuously started implementing conversion plans prematurely, now leaving teachers, principals, and parents trapped in limbo. They created this situation by being cocky enough to dismiss our "be careful - this is not set in stone" words. Also, they knew that the faster they started making changes, the harder it would be to stop and/or undo their damage.

Now the pot has been stirred up, and the future is uncertain. Please rest assured that I will stand behind you, as will thousands of petition-signers, and hundreds of my personal contacts. I'm sure I have sounded like a broken record with my constant "Don't give up - this is far from over" urgings, but my optimism stems from a strong faith that we humans are not the ultimate "controllers". Regardless of what happens next, you did the right thing - sleep peacefully!

With My Deepest Appreciation and Respect,

Louise Lee

Reassignment Proposal Released on January 9, 2007

Courtesy of the News and Observer


I'll be posting more than just this today, so be sure to check in a lot - this week and next, especially. So much is happening - so fast. It is extremely important to send and call in a huge word of thanks to the 4 County Commissioners ( Coble, Gardner, Bryan, and Gurley) who stuck their necks out to try and protect choice for parents. As the "spin" unravels, they will be the target of accusation upon accusation - possibly even leading to legal action. They have got to hear, see, and feel the massive support of Wake County citizens - now. Click here for their contact info:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More Details

Click here for N&O details about the School Board's decision today concerning MYR schools:

School Board Digging In Their Heels

Louise is over at the School Board meeting right now, and relays that they voted 4-2 to proceed with the planned reassignment and MYR conversions! Voting against were Carol Parker and Horace Tart.

Clarification: Ron Margiotta was not present at the time of the vote.

Monday, January 08, 2007

You ARE Making a Difference!

In a 4 - 3 vote, the Wake County Commissioners made a key decision today pertaining to bond money and mandatory year-round schools. According to this account by WRAL (, the Commissioners agreed to advance some of the bond money to the Wake County School Board, but stipulated that it cannot be used for mandatory year-round school conversions. They want more study time on the issue. This is huge! Keep your eyes and ears open because this is going to open up a lot of discussion.

I am planning to attend the School Board's Committee of the Whole meeting at noontomorrow, then stay for an hour or so for the regular 2:00 session. I'm anxious to hear what they have to say!

Friday, January 05, 2007


As the deadline draws near for the "official" reassignment plan to be revealed (Tuesday, Jan. 9), the question on everyone's mind is, "What can we do?" Well, for starters, contact the County Commissioners (link on the side) - yes, again - and specifically ask them to refuse the request by the Wake County Board of Education for an advancement on several million dollars of the bond money - some of which is slated for use in converting schools to mandatory year-round. We need all the time we can get to still try and prove why such a plan is detrimental to our county and to our state. Please also note that the County Commissioners have a meeting this-coming Monday, January 8. If there is any way that you can be there, please come. At the last meeting, the room was packed, and it really made an impression. They are hearing from parents at a few individual schools, but need to know that this is a county-wide (and not just parent) problem! Thanks to everyone for not giving up! 

County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, January 8 at 2pm.
Public Comment 3-3:30pm

The Wake County Board of Commissioners' meetings are held in the Wake County Courthouse, 7th Floor, Room 700, on the first and third Mondays of the month (unless changed for holidays or other reasons), beginning at 2 p.m., with a public comment period for citizens to address the Board from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Wake County Courthouse
335 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27602

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reassignment Comment Deadline

This reminder from Keung Hui's N&O blog:

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Deadline for reassignment comment looming

Time is rapidly running out to toss in your two cents on the draft reassignment plan.

The deadline to comment on the draft is 5 p.m. today. You can provide online feedback from a school or node explanation page. You can also send an e-mail message to or call 501-7998.

Once the comment period ends, administrators will review the input and present the official reassignment plan to the school board next Tuesday.