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Wake School Board, Commissioners Butt Heads Over New Issue

Posted May 7, 2007
Updated May 8, 2007

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— The Wake County School Board and the Wake County Commissioners once again have an issue over which they are butting heads. It’s a new issue with an old twist.

Two years ago, commissioners denied the school board’s request to lease a site at the Dubois Center in Wake Forest for a modular school. The board moved forward, using money out of its savings account.

Now, the board is back, asking for money to lease the land for five more years.

“This is exactly the situation we rejected several years ago,” says County Commission Chair Tony Gurley.

This time, the site would be used as a ninth-grade center to ease overcrowding at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School this fall. It would cost as much as $45,000 a year.

Gurley said he’ll vote no again because the school board didn’t consider alternative sites when the commission asked the board to review two years ago.

“We had excellent options at a much lower cost to the taxpayer, and we were ignored,” says Gurley.

The Dubois site made headlines after parents protested the temporary location for Forest Pines Elementary. They said the neighborhood was too dangerous. Developers offered other sites for free.

School officials said then that they felt the sites were either too narrow, had too many power lines or cost too much to develop.

“The cost analysis did, at the time, show it was not cheaper,” said Associate Superintendent Don Haydon.

For Gurley, though, there is one bottom line.

“We’re not getting a lot of cooperation from the school board,” he said.

Commissioner Joe Bryan noted that the school system made a fatal error when it sold the land in question to the Dubois Alumni Association back in 1998 for about $300,000. He says that by the time the county pays off the lease, it will cost the school system more than it made from the sale.

If the commissioners deny the latest request, the school board can move forward again by dipping into savings. By law, the board only needs approval if a lease is more than three years.

Gurley says that if there is no alternative, he’d vote in favor of the lease. Because the school board has the money to act independently, however, he wants to send a message.

Back in January, county commissioners voted to withhold $3.4 million  the board wants so it can convert 22 schools to year-round calendars. The 4-3 vote came down on the side of commissioners who say they don’t want students forced onto that schedule. The school board moved ahead by dipping into savings.

Since county commissioners have the responsibility of funding the school system, Gurley argues the school system shouldn’t have a savings fund from which to draw in the first place.

11 Comments

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  • speedy May 9, 2007

    “We’re not getting a lot of cooperation from the school board,” he said.

    Huh! Imagine that!

  • mamasaurusrex May 9, 2007

    The Wake County Goverment is not able to deal with all our growth as it is, why do you think they could "fix" our school system? There is no easy fix. It's going to take cooperation, understanding and cooperation on everyone's part to deal with our growth problems. I wonder when the bickering will stop and the clean up will begin.

  • djofraleigh May 8, 2007

    The county controls sewer and water permits
    for new houses, so they can control growth.
    Build the new schools before the new houses,
    plus hire the teachers, police, fire, etc.
    Wake County is run by bankers, realtors and builders.

  • sick of You May 8, 2007

    Sweet. A new issue to argue over!

  • JennyT May 8, 2007

    "the school board didn’t consider alternative ..." -- Wow, this sounds so familiar. What a surprise.

  • Hurricanes26 May 8, 2007

    Until the BOE and County Commissioners decide to stop arguing and truly work together to develop solutions for Wake County...nothing is going to change and our children will be the ones that lose.

  • cbsconsult May 8, 2007

    Since when did Raleigh's Park System become a part of Wake County Board of Education or the Wake County Commissioners? Last time I checked, the City of Raleigh does not run nor fund the school system. If you do not like public art - say so - but do not confuse two seperate and distinct issues. If you have millions, are you planning to fund your neighbors' needs? I thought not...

  • next year May 8, 2007

    Only if the Wake County government invests enough in our kids... not just my kids, but poor and special needs kids too. The BOE wasn't the only group advocating measures like YR schools as a cost-effective solution. But they seem to be left all alone twisting in the wind.

  • msncdso May 8, 2007

    I realize these are probably completely different areas of government, but if Wake County schools are in such need, why do we continue to hear that Raleigh has money to burn for such expensive projects as art creations for Fayetteville St., etc.

  • thrasher3 May 8, 2007

    Wake Countys stance on things: "Fix the potholes and forget the kids...." All Wake County is actually FOR doing in their county is getting the roads fixed.... That is rediculous!!!!

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