Supporters, opponents of Wake school bond

An $810 million school construction bond referendum on the Oct. 8 ballot could mean new schools and improvements at existing schools if voters approve the measure.

On Oct. 8, Wake County voters will be asked to weigh in on an $810 million school construction bond referendum that public school system leaders say is needed to help accommodate an estimated additional 20,000 students over the next five years.

The bond – the first since 2006 when voters approved a $970 million referendum on school construction – would cover the cost of 16 new schools (two high schools, three middle schools and 11 elementary schools), six major renovations and dozens of smaller projects at existing schools. It would also help pay for the upgrade of technology, security across the school system and land for future schools.

Since 2006, the district has grown by more than 20,000 students, bringing the total student population to nearly 150,000 and making Wake County schools the largest school district in the state and 16th largest in the nation.

If voters approve the bond, it would require a 5.53-cent hike in property taxes, meaning, for example, a Wake County homeowner with a house worth $250,000 could expect a $138.25 annual tax increase.

But the talk of tax hikes and the need for new schools has sparked debate in the community among a number of groups campaigning for and against the bond.

Among them, is Friends of Wake County, the group tasked with selling the bond to the public, and the Wake County Taxpayers Association, a non-partisan watchdog group concerned about the county's growing bond debt.

Click on the links (in alphabetical order) below to find out about each group.