Wake County Schools

School bond in question amid Wake schools turmoil

Posted September 27, 2012

— A bond referendum on next year's ballot could help the growing Wake County Public School System build more schools, if it doesn't fall victim to what many see as a growing partisan feud between the state's largest school system and county leaders.

After the Democratic-controlled Board of Education fired Superintendent Tony Tata on Tuesday, Paul Coble, chairman of the Republican-controlled Wake County Board of Commissioners, called the move a "slap in the face" that could interfere with commissioners approving a bond for the November ballot.

Democratic school board members who voted to fire Tata, including Jim Martin, denies Tata's firing was political and says that it is Republicans, like Coble, who are fanning the partisan flames.

"We'll see who's using things for politics," Martin said Thursday. "If you're trying to make threats out of not building enough schools, it strikes me, that's politics."

Over the past 12 years, Wake County voters have approved nearly $2 billion in school construction bonds, including a $970 million referendum in 2006.

Since then, 21, 457 additional students have enrolled in the school system, which sees about 3,500 to 5,000 new students each year.

Currently, about one in three schools is over capacity, and as recently as July, Tata said new school construction is necessary, estimating a need for about three new schools a year.

Wake County school board member Jim Martin School bond in question amid Wake schools turmoil

Tim Simmons, vice president of communications for the Wake Education Partnership, a group that builds business and community support for school bonds, says that politics could hurt the chances of seeing it approved.

"They are going to have to figure out how to get beyond that," Simmons said. "Students keep coming every year, whether they're fighting at the school board level or the county commission level."

Harvey Schmitt, chief executive officer of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, which also works to support school bonds, asked school board leaders Monday to reconsider Tata's firing and warned them that the move could hurt public confidence in the school system.

He thinks a bond could pass next year if the board can figure out how to work together by then.

"The reality is that we can't get stuck here. We've got bigger fish to fry," Schmitt said. "The bottom line is we continue to grow. If we don't respond to that growth, we get further behind, and that's not in the best interests of any of the populations here in this community, regardless of their political position."

Schmitt says voters will be watching to see how well the board works as a team in the search for a new superintendent.

Acting Superintendent Stephen Gainey also admits that the turmoil on the board could make a bond referendum difficult to pass.

"I believe this community is one that has high expectations for what the school system should look like, should be like," he said. "At the end of the day, when we have needs, I think the community, from my perspective, has always responded. A lot of it rests with trust, in my mind, so we've got our work cut out for us."


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  • wyoming Oct 2, 2012

    I look forward to the opportunity to vote down this bond.

  • mpbshop Oct 1, 2012

    The "Elementary Capacity Data" published today states that about 30,000 elementary addresses that met "proximity" criteria under the 2012-13 plan will not be assigned to the base of the elementary school students at those addresses currently attend. It puts about 30,000 into the base that are attending another school due to proximity. It is a base assignment plan with limited or no choice due to capping of base attendance.

  • superman Sep 28, 2012

    If it is politics now that he was fired 5 to 4 just what do you call it when he was hired with the same vote.

  • superman Sep 28, 2012

    skipkirkwood2-- dont know where you read that but that is not what I have read. My infor is that he does not have a state supt's certifiction. Training that a "general" has no revelance to public eduction. In fact with his military background I would discarded his appliction. Military supervision is different than civilain. I have not seen any outpouring of support from him from the principals or support staff. The first rule in keeping a job is to have a good relationship with your supervisor. He didnt pass rule no. 1. If you consider the supply a problem how about you send money to the school to help pay for your own childs education. I hold a BS degrees as well as a Master's Degree in Education along with being a CPA. I have been a Finance Director for a very large system. Just what are your credentials. As Finance Director I attended all school board meetings and meetings with the principals.

  • federalsales2 Sep 28, 2012

    Wake county school broad is a laughing joke in the state NC. The whole country is watching and not liking what they see.....

  • common_sense_plz Sep 28, 2012

    I am a Wake County resident and here is a heads up for the WAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD......I WILL NOT VOTE FOR ANY SCHOOL BOND.

  • skipkirkwood2 Sep 28, 2012

    By the way - as of today - textbooks not provided or not available. If the kids don't have broadband computer access at home they are so out of luck. Janitorial service only provided two days per week at a magnet high school (the environment is just gross). Science teachers get 50 cents per student for lab supplies (what a joke - they are asking for "donations" to be able to teach).

    The current state of our schools is appalling!

  • skipkirkwood2 Sep 28, 2012

    Superman - not true. Supt. Tata had degrees and experience, including high-level superintendent training that many superintendents who have "come up" inside the education machine do not have. I don't think you have any idea about the leadership and management responsibilities, education, and training of an individual who rises to the rank of Brigadier General in the Army. Hint - it's huge.

    I will not vote for a bond measure until I see evidence that there are some adults present on the board. I will count on the Board of County Commissioners to make sure that the school board is subject to adult supervision. And I will not vote for candidates who support using the schools as "social engineering laboratories" as they were in the pre-Margiotta days.

  • bombayrunner Sep 28, 2012

    The school board has crossed the line ... that Advanced Ed team is likely on their way back. I hope they dis-credit the whole bunch of democrats. I was listening to them on the radio this morning, they're mad.

  • bnorris6 Sep 28, 2012

    Vote NO on any future school bond until this board can get it together and stop acting like spoiled little brats. If those who have kids in the system want new schools and diversity, then charge parents a surcharge per child they have in the system.