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Wake Commissioners Surprise Schools With Vote for New Bond

Posted January 27, 2007
Updated January 29, 2007

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— Wake County Commissioners surprised the county’s school board Saturday by agreeing to pursue another big-dollar school bond this year.

This plan comes two months after voters passed a $970 million bond for schools and while school leaders and the commissioners have an unresolved dispute about money for year-round school conversions.

Crunching the numbers, Wake County commissioners said they expect to spend $4 billion on schools in the next 10 years. They plan on asking voters for half of it in the first two years.

“We're willing, and in fact, recommending that we accelerate the next bond issue so we can get ahead and provide seats for our children,” said Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan.

Voters passed the $970 million bond in November to pay for facilities that are needed to accommodate rapid and extensive growth in the school population. An estimated 8,000 new students likely will enroll every year for several years.

This is the second surprise for Wake school officials. The first came when commissioners withheld $3.4 million the board had requested from last year's bond proceeds to convert schools to a mandatory year-round schedule.

Wake school leaders had planned to ask for another multimillion-dollar bond in a year or two, but they said they hadn’t planned to ask for more money in 2007. Wake County Schools Superintendent Del Burns and members of the school board found out about the commissioners’ plans from WRAL on Saturday.

“I really think it's crucial we meet and talk about these things instead of consistently getting surprised,” said school board member Carol Parker.

Parker said the commissioners' decision to bump up the next bond is a distraction from the ongoing debate over year-round schools.

“It diverts our attention to another issue,” she said. “What we need to concentrate on is having enough seats in 2007, in July and August when school opens.”

Commissioners must have a final vote on whether to have a bond referendum this year, and the school bond issue must still be approved by the school board. Putting the next bond issue on the ballot is far from a done deal, and getting it passed is even more uncertain.

“I think that will be a challenge -- whether we do it in 2007 or we waited a year in 2008,” Bryan said.

Bryan said the school bond issue could be coupled with three other bonds this fall, including $100 million for Wake Technical Community College, $60 million for libraries, and $50 million for parks and open space. Each issue would be listed on the ballot separately.

Another school bond package would likely come with another property tax increase. For example, the owner of a $200,000 home is now paying $94 more a year with the passing of last year's bond.
37 Comments

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  • ecbrady Jan 28, 2007

    I understand everyones fustration, this is just poor planning. But as a reminder. Property values have been steadily increasing in the area & one of the major contributing factors is Wake County School System. Look at the realestate market. People are willing to pay a premium for a good school system... and unfortunately higher taxes go hand & hand with a good school system. Towns need to tax builders more to plan for the future. Where I'm from originally the town designated a specific number of building permits & developers shared more in the cost of a growing comunity.

  • kmcboone Jan 28, 2007

    Those of you who are worried about how your money is being spent ought to research the true cost of MYR conversions and upkeep. Go ahead- check into it. See if that makes you feel better or worse.

  • clackymcsplatter Jan 28, 2007

    i have NO kids, therefore i do not give a flying fudgebar about Gov't schools....viva
    la private school!

  • finallysingle Jan 28, 2007

    What happened to the lottery money?I thought when the lottery was passed it would be all problems solved with the schools...dumb me .

  • g88ky Jan 28, 2007

    All of those that want to move and don't want another bond because you have no kids in the system, PLEASE LEAVE!
    You'll free up space for the rest of us and probably someone will buy your home that has kids and then they will support the need.
    Another bond, and yet 2 more WILL be voted on and approved whether you stay, vote no or disappear into the wind.
    The problem in this county is the folks like you who think just because i don't have kids I'm not paying. BS, welcome to Wake County!
    You want to avoid the taxes? Support impact fees for the developers and builders contributing greatly to the problem while they line their accounts with enough $$ to build schools on every corner like Wal-Greens!
    Quit your whining and move now!

  • Ladybug Jan 28, 2007

    Well I agree with the person who said they would move out of Wake Co. if another bond is passed. We don't have children in school anymore, so why should we pay for more schools. We too are seriously thinking of moving out of Wake Co. It's bad enough that Cary wants to annex us; now Wake Co. wants to shoot us tooooooo!

  • inmyopinion3 Jan 28, 2007

    I'm moving out of Wake County if another Bond is approved! This is gone way beyond acceptable!

  • kriskovacs Jan 28, 2007

    Bravo to the County Commissioners! The school board is very careful not to have the bond issue come up during their election cycle. By forcing them to revisit it again this year, both their bond and their behinds will be on the ballot and maybe once and for all we can get some people with some sense on the School Board!

  • trunkmonkee1971 Jan 28, 2007

    This is no surprise. I have come to expect this after each School Bond comes up. The attitude alot of folks have is that "it's only a few pennies on the dollar". There are life long residents of Wake county that are greatly affected by these "few pennies". There should have been some action taken years ago regarding the fast growth of the Wake county area. It was no secret back then that the area would be experiencing this kind of growth.

  • plasticstech Jan 28, 2007

    All I can say, is that I am glad I moved from Wake County before this all got started.

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