Raleigh, N.C. — Dismissing the conclusions of two independent appraisals, the Wake County school board voted Tuesday to pursue a controversial land deal in Rolesville.
Wake County commissioners delayed approving the purchase of 47 acres in Rolesville for a middle school last month, saying the school district was paying too much for the land.
Proposed school-site purchases in Apex and Cary in recent months that were deemed overvalued prompted the county Board of Commissioners to require the district to obtain an independent appraisal on all future land deals before the commissioners would consider approving the purchase.
A first appraisal on the Rolesville site valued the land at about $48,000 an acre, while a second appraisal put the value at $63,000 to $65,000 an acre. The school district has offered $75,000 an acre.
School board members said passing on the deal could push back the opening date on the middle school by a year and add to the construction cost. Finding another suitable site could take six months, and inflation could drive up the price of building the school by as much as $1.9 million, they said.
The middle school is scheduled to open in 2010, but a delay could push it back to 2011.
The owners of the 47-acre site has told the school board that they have a back-up offer and won't extend the school system's option on the land beyond Sept. 6.
The school board voted to take the deal to the Board of Commissioners for approval.
Meanwhile, the school board met with the Raleigh City Council Tuesday to discuss ways to ensure adequate school sites will remain available in the future.
Wake County loses an acre of open space every hour to new development, and the school board plans to meet with officials in each of the county's 12 municipalities so they are familiar with the school district's process for siting new schools.
School board member Carol Parker said she would like to talk about developers and communities setting aside land for future schools.
"Communication is obviously going to be a very important item going forward, whether it's us or the other municipalities or the county. Communication is going to be key in how the school board communicates with everybody else," Raleigh City Councilman Philip Isley said.