Cary officials school Wake commissioners on need for more classrooms
Posted April 20, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Cary's population has grown by 53 percent since 2000, but Town Council members worry that the number of schools in Cary hasn't kept pace.
So, council members met Monday with the Wake County Board of Commissioners, which controls the finances for the Wake County Public School System.
"At the end of the day, you are the bankers," Town Councilwoman Lori Bush told commissioners.
Much of the classroom squeeze is on the western edge of Cary, Bush said.
"What we're seeing is five schools capped in Cary, additional pressure, trailers outside the schools and then, along with that, additional developers and landowners who want to build on their land," she said.
A new high school and some elementary schools are scheduled to open in Cary in the next few years, but no new middle schools are in the pipeline.
Cary leaders said the space crunch could choke off development and the town's ability to recruit employers.
"Our economy depends on having the full capacity for our students," Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said.
Commissioners suggested Cary officials select potential school sites early to streamline the process, and both boards agreed that they need to look at possibly converting empty buildings in town into schools. The two groups also shot down any talk of building Cary schools through public-private partnerships.
Wake County also might incorporate school construction into the county's capital improvement plan rather than seek voter approval every few years for a massive school bond.
Commissioner Caroline Sullivan said that approach would allow the county to "flatten out the debt capacity and look long range."
In addition to schools, the two boards discussed how they can work together on issues such as transit and the greenway system.