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Panel Examines Cost-Effective Ways To Build, Maintain Wake Schools

Posted November 3, 2006

— With leaky ceilings, outdated bathrooms, and trailers, East Millbrook Middle School illustrates the need for repairs at many older Wake County Schools. Bond supporters said the problems show why a $970 million bond is needed.

"This is the next logical step to ensure that the schools that have some age on them are brought up to standard," said Friends of Wake County co-chair Dr. Bill Atkinson.

Supporters, Opponents Of Wake Bond Disagree On School Spending

The bond package that goes before voters next week would pay for 17 new schools and 13 major renovations, among other things. But some opponents said they're not confident the school board will spend the money wisely.

"Every dollar wasted in fancy building designs and glass atriums are dollars that don't go into educating children," said Dallas Woodhouse with Americans for Prosperity.

"The question is: can we build schools more efficiently with more respect to the taxpayer?" said Billie Redmond, co-chair of the Citizen's Facility Advisory Committee.

The committee, an independent group, is trying to answer that question. County commissioners and school board members formed the 13-member panel to look at more cost-effective ways to design and build schools.

"What about block versus brick?" said Redmond. "What about those glass atriums? Does it really cost more to put red tile on the floor instead of beige tile? We don't know that yet, but we think we'll know that early next year."

The committee recently hired a consulting firm to audit eight other school districts. They want to compare Wake County's spending with the other districts to see how Wake stacks up.

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