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Wake School Board Scours County for Land, Help

Posted August 29, 2007

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— Students are showing up to class in record numbers, and the Wake County Board of Education is worried the land and facilities they need won't be there for them.

The school board is conducting a series of meetings with the county's 12 municipal governments to ask for their help in reserving land for schools.

At a meeting with Raleigh’s City Council on Tuesday night, school board members presented numbers that explain that need.

By 2025, the current student population of 128,072 is expected to double in size to nearly 250,000. That means the county will need at least 45 more elementary schools, 20 middle schools and 17 high schools.

“We’re pretty sure land is going to be a problem,” said Rosa Gill, the school board chairwoman. “If we need additional land inside a municipality, we want them to help us, and we want them to understand why we need those schools.”

The school board is pushing for municipal governments to help them adopt immediate and long-term solutions. It also wants to complete the purchase of a land site inside Raleigh's city limits, the final of three whose purchase was authorized under the most recent bond program.

Longer-term solutions may require new ways of thinking about the problem, school board members said.

“I think we’re going to have to change the way we do business,” school board member Carol Parker said. “We’ll have to do this with less land per school site."

One of the options laid out by the school board is asking developers to set aside land for schools. The school board is also examining a new law that authorizes public-private partnerships in which developers build a school and lease it back to the school system.

School board members said they may experiment once with that method to see if it helps put schools on the ground faster and save money. City Council members said they understand the school board's challenge.

“They don’t approve the building permits or set the budget," said Councilman Russ Stephenson. “They just have to deal with both of those decision-making processes."

The series of meetings by itself is a worthwhile exercise for the school board, Councilman Philip Isley said.

“Communication, obviously, is going to be a very important item going forward, regardless of which municipality they’re working with or if it’s the county,” Isley said. “That’s probably the most critical thing that's going to come out of this series of meetings, is how the school board communicates with everyone else.”

Suggestions made by the Citizens’ Facilities Advisory Committee include building new schools without athletic fields and joint development and use of sites.

The school board is scheduled to meet with other area mayors in September.

Concurrently, Cary’s Town Council is studying how to fund setting aside land for future schools.

Wake County School Growth By the Numbers

Student Population

  • Enrollment has doubled since 1985 from 57,268 to 128,072.
  • It's expected to double again by 2025 and reach 249,672.

Projected Number of New Schools Needed by 2025

  • 45 elementary schools
  • 20 middle schools
  • 17 high schools
  • Total: 82 schools

Mobile Classrooms Currently in Use

  • 680 in elementary schools
  • 219 in middle schools
  • 211 in high schools
  • 8 in alternate schools
  • Total: 1,118

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  • Uncle Ruckus Aug 30, 2007

    Get rid of all those PHd's with Education degrees and hire some MBA's. WCPSS should not be a place where the otherwise unemployable are employed.

  • Wheelman Aug 30, 2007

    No Poohperson, you still view them as the problem. They are running businesses and hundreds of other people depend on their business for a living. They are no different than the business you or I work for. You can't just stop doing business for a while. You go out of business. They are operating legally within the guidelines, permits, etc. that exist. As I have tried to point out in prior posts, the problem exists with the actions or inactions and planning of the local governments. A developer doesn't get to do anything without their permission and oversight. If building permits aren't issued, then developers don't develop. Cary went overboard a few years ago with trying to control growth by enacting large fees and limiting building permits. Growth almost stopped, and in a short while businesses started suffering, taxes became flat and people started complaining because there were no new homes to purchase and existing prices were climbing. Better planning is the answer.

  • poohperson Aug 29, 2007


    you miss the point, must of use would be just as happy if they quit taking the "risk" and we haulted new development until the issues of schools, water, and infrastructure can be addressed.

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 29, 2007


    I am not pinning the blame on the Board, I am saying that they act like everyone should be groveling before them. No one wants to help a bunch of haughty know-it-alls who do nothing but point fingers, especially when those people cannot keep their own house in order. When one in six kids fails to graduate on time, when SAT scores slip for the second year in a row, when the district fails to meet AYP, when it is disgraced in court by the state's preeminent education jurist, when it is the site of a multi-million dollar embezzlement scandal, when it tries to buy land from a prominent donor at double the appraised value, is it any wonder the other local leaders have little patience for their finger pointing? Sure, those other leaders have their faults, the lack of growth management may be on the list for many, but this school board has so many problems of their own that they would be better served to shut their mouths and fix them rather than talk about the faults of others

  • djofraleigh Aug 29, 2007

    "...the only real purpose to the lottery was to capture revenue that was walking unimpeded across the state lines to VA, SC, TN, and GA."

    How much was that going out, minus the winnings within NC?

    How much is going out now? Administrative costs going to out of state firms is probably in the many millions.

    A survey quoted on the radio is that 1 of 5 people now think the way to get financially is via the EDUCATION Lottery...that's the education the lottery teaches, but the lottery does give the millions of old losers new hope each month.

    The Georgia lottery pays disproportionately for the education of the non-poor, at the expense of the poorer under educated families (thus the kids) who disproportionatly spend on the lottery.

    It is a shame when the STATE hussles its citizens with bad gambling bets and then has the gall to call it the EDUCATIONAL lottery.

    What does the Lottery really teach people?

    Control growth at a planned rate.

  • Wheelman Aug 29, 2007

    To those of you who want to blame the developers and think they are greedy, I would suggest that you go talk to some developers and find out just what they have to go through and how much financial risk they take to take a piece of unused land and get it to a point where your house or business can be built on it. Most people wouldn't go through all the restrictions, regulations, red tape and stress; much less in many cases risking most if not everything they own on something with no guarantees. And no...I'm not a developer. I just happen to know some and as a result I know just how wrong many of your opinions are about them. If you wouldn't want the govenment to come and take something of yours with no compensation. Why do you condone them doing it to someone else? Certainly you are intelligent enough to know that if they are wealthy it is because they have worked and taken the risks for what they have. They don't owe the community anything more than the rest of us do.

  • bcc Aug 29, 2007

    It pains me to say, I agree with Steve on all accounts. You have a solid grasp on the issues here Steve (but don't let it go to your head).

  • speedy Aug 29, 2007

    Why can't we do this here? Developers required to donate "cash or land".


  • speedy Aug 29, 2007

    just some more for those who think it's impossible for the municipality to require school consideration.

    Quoted from another locality:
    The developer shall obtain all school and recreational land agreements as required by
    the Lake County UDO, if any.
    Each agreement shall include a legal description of the land to be subdivided and shall
    reference the Final Plat by name and document number as assigned by the County
    Recorder. _____ Have the School Contribution Agreements been reviewed and approved? _____ Are the school agreements referenced on the plat? _____ Are legal descriptions provided where necessary? _____ Have Park Contributions been reviewed and approved? _____ Is performance guarantee required? _____ Will maintenance guarantee be required?

  • poohperson2000 Aug 29, 2007

    The growth is not only affecting schools, but our infastructure, and water supplies. You may want to pin all the blame on the BoE, and that is fine, but until we make growth pay for itself, and control it so we can all have water, our problems will not go away. To do this without more tax increases you need to A) Make the developers pay for the growth B) Make the buyers pay for the growth via impact fees.