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Wake Committee Offers Ideas on Building Schools

Posted September 19, 2007

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— A citizens committee made recommendations to Wake County leaders and school system officials on how to better plan for new schools to accommodate the growing student population.

The 228-page report by the 13-member Citizens' Facilities Advisory Committee looks at how Wake County, compared with eight other school districts, should select sites, design schools and better manage construction.

Among its key recommendations is increasing land banking – buying land now before it is gone.

"We've got schools that are not under way now because the land hadn't been acquired for them," said committee Co-chairman John Mabe. "And they need to be built, and it will relieve overcrowding, if you go ahead and get this land."

Mabe also recommended that schools take on urban designs, be compact and energy-efficient.

Other recommendations, however, sparked debate among committee members, county leaders and school board leaders, including those to reduce parking spaces, combine cafeterias with auditoriums and reconsider athletic activities.

"We would suggest that the school system consider the athletic programs and what they cost and are there other ways to provide those facilities," said committee Co-Chairwoman Billie Redmond.

The committee's findings will act as a blueprint. The Board of Education must consider the recommendations and decide what plan of action to take.

"We will be getting feedback from parents and the community about some of these recommendations," school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said. "So, before we take any actions, the public will have a chance to respond to it."

Wake County has tried thinking of nontraditional ways to provide schools to accommodate the thousands of students who enter the public school system each year, including converting a manufacturing plant to an elementary school, which is set to open next year.

Other school projects, however, have not gotten past the land-purchase stage. School officials wanted land in Rolesville for a new middle school and made a $3.5 million offer, which was higher than the appraised value, to the owner.

County commissioners, however, would only approve the purchase for $2.6 million, and the owner refused the lower offer.

By 2025, enrollment in Wake County schools is expected to double, to nearly 250,000 students. School leaders project, at that point, they will need 45 new elementary schools, 20 new middle schools and 17 new high schools.

"Every single day, we're spending three-fourth of a million dollars on school construction," Wake County commissioner Joe Bryan said. "That should be Priority 1 in terms of ensuring that that money is being invested wisely."


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  • ncguy Sep 20, 2007

    I have said it once and I will say it again! When we kick out the illegal aliens- problem reduced by 50 percent + or - a few.

    The Developers will not make as much money and guess what- it will slow down growth.

  • peaceout Sep 19, 2007

    Ocean child ~ I want the name of the grocery store that pays their employees what developers make....I'll quit my teaching job and start tomorrow. Your rational does not make sense. Developers strip what we have left of this planet. They fill in ponds and replace them with those lovely mosquito farms. They cut down hard woods and replace them with foo-foo trees that they plant UNDER power lines so they can look like "U's" in about 10 years. Demolish historic houses, stores and barns to create McMansions. Bet they even employee lots of illegals. Then walk away with their pockets full of cash while we teachers have to teach in closets. Johnston Co. is no better off than Wake. They should learn from WCPSS mistakes...but they don't. West View Elementary just opened LAST year and already has "cottages". Growth and change are a part of life. Someone needs to get wise about how this is done...because it is NOT working.
    Tree huggin', earth lovin' Johnston Co. educator :)

  • ncrebel Sep 19, 2007

    Amen!!! ...In Like Flynn

  • oceanchild71 Sep 19, 2007

    Shamrock: Your original point was that developers should have to give land or be penalized a percentage to help with schools. This would only increase the cost of the lots/houses. For some reason, people have this unrealistic view that a developer should have to live in a shack with no running water simply because what they do. Now, developers have approached the school board trying to "donate" land because that would be a major selling point, so they can justify the higher prices if the potential customer is guaranteed that their child will attend that school. But w/out a guarantee, there is no selling point to the customer so then the developer has lost quite a few lots he/she could have sold to a builder.

    These calls to penalize people who are doing business legally is insane. If you don't like the growth and everything else, contact your CC and make your voice heard, or move out to Idaho.

  • Six String Sep 19, 2007

    Not_So_Dumb, you've made an interesting and reasonable point. I would tend to agree with everything you said, so we have no conflict. I would hope that some of the "retired" people on the committee would help with oversight on those issues and, of course, they only recommend to the commissioners and school board, so the final decisions don't actually come from the committee. My orginal point was be sure to have the facts. I know people in my extended family who are experts at turning opinion into fact, instead of fact into opinion, so I have dealt with that mentality all my life, and it kind of bothers me.

  • Not_So_Dumb Sep 19, 2007

    Six String,

    I agree that we need the expertise, but the committee is supposed to be made of people with no perceived conflict of interests. If someone is going to make money form the school system, how hard will they push for cost cutting measures? They are effectively asking to have their own profit reduced.

    FYI, Billie Redmond is the person who brought the Apex land deal to the table:
    How much money was going to be made there?

    It is a tough thing, really. You have to pick the people who know the system and those people work with the system. If you cut them out, you lose the best information. If you keep them in, they might be working against you.

  • Six String Sep 19, 2007

    Not-so-dumb, thanks. I also had found the list. My point is this: you have to have some people on this committee that understand a.) architecture b.) finance c.) construction d.) engineering. If any of these people profit, they will profit regardless of how/when/why the schools are built. I, for one, am thankful that the committee has some expertise on its staff, or they would be recommening many things that are not feasible to begin with and wasting a lot of time, while getting little done.

  • Is it Friday yet Sep 19, 2007

    "Wonder what the cost of food would be if we sent them all home."

    Dont know, but people pay 5 bucks for coffee and milk prices are higher than ever now, so the argument that somehow no one could afford food is sort of silly. If it costs so much that no on would buy it, then guess what? It would go down in price. Do you really believe there is a relationship between the cost of farm labor and the price of food? Honestly? Wonder what the price of food would be if the government didnt subsidize so much of it, or the gas prices werent so high, or warter, etc.. etc..

  • Not_So_Dumb Sep 19, 2007

    CFAC Members:

    Fred Aikens, Retired/At-large
    (Retired Deputy Secretary for DOT)

    Sepi Asefnia, Engineer
    (Sepi Engineering)

    Glenn Blackley, Retired/At-large
    (Retired Facilities Manager for Wake County)

    Justus Everette, Engineer
    (President of ABE Utilities)

    Roddy Jones, Contractor
    (Chairman, Davidson & Jones Hotel Corp.)

    Russell Killen, Attorney (Real Estate/Construction)
    (Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein)

    John Mabe, Attorney (Real Estate/Construction) (Williams Mullen Maupin Taylor)

    Billie Redmond, Real Estate (Trademark Properties)

    Jim Smith, Architect (HagerSmith Design)

    Jimmy Smith, Architect (JS Architecture)

    Terry Stoops, Policy Analyst (John Locke Foundation)

    Eddie Truelove, Contractor (Past Member of State Building Commission; Past President of Association of Building Contractors)

    Rob Weaver, Banker (Senior VP and marketing Manager, Bank of America)

  • Six String Sep 19, 2007

    mhart, just curious about something. We have two names, John Mabe and Billie Redmond. What are their occupations? Who are the other eleven and what are their occupations? If you can actually provide the answers, then there is a case to be pursued. If not, well... you're guessing and calling it a fact.