Local News

Private Developers One Option To Ease Wake School Overcrowding

Posted November 14, 2006

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— Some students at Holly Springs Middle School are lucky enough to have a regular classroom. Other classrooms are similar to closets. The school is so overcrowded that classes are taught in teacher work areas, conference rooms and in trailers behind the building.

"We live in a time and we live in an area where we have to think outside the box when it comes to creating space for kids," said Holly Springs Middle School Principal Kenneth Proulx,

School leaders said leasing schools instead of building them could speed up the process. That's why the Wake School Board is discussing a new creative way to create more classrooms. The plan calls for private developers to build the schools and then lease them to the school system.

"Like a mortgage payment for your house, so that you pay on it on a monthly basis or a yearly basis, rather than having to have all that money up front," said Michael Burris, Wake County Schools assistant superintendent of facilities.

The school system would lease the school for up to 40 years, with an option to buy at the end. The Wake County Board of Education has asked staff members to find out more information on the leasing option, so they can make a more informed decision.

"I don't know if it's going to save us a lot of money, but it could save us some time in getting buildings erected," said Wake County School Board member Eleanor Goettee.

With schools like Holly Ridge Middle busting at the seams, school leaders say they have to look at all options, even with a $970 million bond for building new schools recently approved.

"I'm confident that they're going to put the best plan in place to accommodate this tremendous growth that we have," Proulx said.

Leasing is being done in other parts of the country, including Greenville, S.C. Officials there said they chose the leasing option because, unlike Wake County, the school system couldn't get a bond referendum passed
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