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Meeker, Commissioners Hash Out Differences

Posted October 1, 2007

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— Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker on Monday called it unacceptable for Wake County to use hundreds of mobile classrooms and called for better communication between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education to deal with booming growth in area schools.

"It's time we all get back on the same page," Meeker said. "We need to get everybody working in partnership to get these schools built."

Noting about 25,000 area students attend classes in trailers, he said, "That is not an acceptable situation, and we all need to pull together to get these schools built."

The comments came during a rare appearance by the Raleigh mayor before the county Board of Commissioners.

Meeker and Tony Gurley, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, have been engaged in a verbal spat during the past week over statements Meeker made during a recent taping of "WRAListens."

In the community affairs show, the mayor criticized the commissioners' handling of a recent effort to purchase land for a new middle school in Rolesville.

The school board had  agreed to buy the site for $3.5 million, but the Board of Commissioners cited lower appraisals for the land and approved spending only $2.6 million for the site. The deal fell through when the owner refused the lower offer.

"To sit around and quibble over a few thousand dollars per acre on land purchases when you've got a $15 million or $20 million school (and) the construction costs are going up 10 to 20 percent a year makes no sense at all," Meeker said.

Gurley called the comments misleading last week, and on Monday, he detailed a list of what he called facts and misinformation surrounding the Rolesville school issue.

For example, county commissioners had placed the Rolesville school on an accelerated building schedule, so any delay in locating a new site for the school would only return it to the original schedule for opening in 2011, Gurley said.

"Criticisms that this delay is going to force students to attend class in non-teaching rooms, that it's going to cause schools in the Rolesville area to be more crowded ... (are) not true at all," he said.

Gurley said county commissioners and school board members have had a good working relationship in recent years, including working together to get a $1 billion school construction bond passed last year. But he said the school board in recent months has stepped back from a collaborative approach to solving school growth problems.

"For those wishing for a better relationship, it won't happen as long as the role of county commissioners is minimized," he said, adding that he would prefer the commissioners be given authority to purchase school sites so the school board could focus on educational programs.

Meeker also urged commissioners to acquire more land around Wake County for future schools and to encourage area towns to expedite permitting so schools can be built as quickly as possible.

Meeker's wife, Anne McLaurin, is running unopposed for the District 5 seat on the school board.

74 Comments

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  • Uncle Ruckus Oct 2, 2007

    Of course, the bottom line is what to do about out-of-control growth. Meeker & Friends are basically "owned" by the developer community, as well as other mayors. Check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adDuf4jKqmI

    you could do the same with Meeker & Friends. I'm sick and tired of making millionaire out of local developers and then get saddled with the tax bill on infrastruction.

  • Uncle Ruckus Oct 2, 2007

    Many of the large landowners in Wake County are also "Friends of Wake County." Never forget that. Follow the money, especially that flows to the school system. Remember, the school board and "we don't need no stink'n audit!"

  • mothermac Oct 2, 2007

    Meeker keeps talking about trailers and how inappropriate to have children in them. I went to a school that had classroom trailers and that was in the 60's and I don't think I was deprived. In fact I have no bad memories of that at all. Some people (heaven forbid) even live in trailers. I am really sorry Raleigh has had to suffer through a "spender" as our mayor. I have a feeling we will be suffering long after he is gone.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 2, 2007

    I see no problem with trailers. My kids used them. Thankfully they are out of that miserable failing system. I feel bad for those of you that still have the great misfortune to have to send your children to the Wake System. Sooner or later we will wise up and demand that the State dump the public system and privatize.

  • poohperson2000 Oct 2, 2007

    coolwill

    What do the parents do with their kids during the summer. My employer is very old fashioned and not very lenient about these things either, so if I want to keep my job, I make other arrangements. This is a part of having kids. I am sorry that they take time off without pay and that effects you, but your employer is to blame for that. I know this always makes everyone mad, so go ahead and attack me. When people choose to have kids they knew there was daycare expenses involved. People can argue that this or that person did it for free in the past, whatever, but bottom line is they need to work out there own daycare, and not expect that everything in life be free. The city of Raleigh offers programs at around 100.00 a week. If you make less than that and it is cheaper to be off work that is one thing.

  • superman Oct 1, 2007

    Lets see-- just who gave the raises to the teachers-- dont think it was the school board or the county commissioners. As for the administation-- the school spends 3 million dollars a day to operate. How many people do you think are needed to keep the schools running and operating. The school is a very large operating system and it does take people to operate and make decisions. Just how many land sites do you think are available in the Rolesville area that have 30 to 40 acres. Maybe 10 or 12 sites? Maybe there was no plan B because they was not another site for sale. The last thing I heard is that no more land is building built. Dont buy the land and cut off your nose to spite your face.

  • coolwill Oct 1, 2007

    Poohperson2000
    As far as year round schools, I work in the field service industries, when a student is tracked out, that parent takes off and his or her work becomes my work. Now imagine if all the schools were year round who would work. Some business do not offer a lot of time off for there employees some employees take off without pay. Some companies required all off there employees to take off at the same time like Christmas and other holidays using their vacation time. Some bosses are not that understanding, they need workers

  • coolwill Oct 1, 2007

    poohperson2000
    you are right about the trailers however he did make a statement concerning your tax dollars, “To sit around and quibble over a few thousand dollars per acre on land purchases when you've got a $15 million or $20 million school (and) the construction costs are going up 10 to 20 percent a year makes no sense at all," ($3.5 million - $2.6 million= $900,000). I do not call $900,000 a few thousand dollars. This alone should tell all of you something about his character. This guy control’s a lot of you tax dollars and he has no intention of spending it judiciously. Our government should be held accountable for comments that they make and wasteful spending just like you do in your own home no matter what the cause is. We need to pause and think about what is really happening in this county, are we growing because we are becoming wealthier or are we the growing poor, if we are the growing poor then we need to make sure every dollar counts. We should always quibble over a

  • CozyCake Oct 1, 2007

    I truly believe that if the school system would trim away at the top, move that money to the classroom many of the important issues could be solved. None of this will happen simply because no one wants to get rid of their income (in the school district offices) and send the money to the classroom.

  • Steve Crisp Oct 1, 2007

    And I have no issues with trailers as classrooms. They are far less expensive. They are mobile so that they can be shifted as needs change. If built properly, they are indistinguishable from brick and morter classrooms once inside. They are far easier to climate control saving tons of money on HVAC costs and ongoing electrical needs.

    In fact, what the school system really ought to do is build an administrative building with the gym, auditorium, very large rooms for things like music and chorus, athletic facilities, the cafeteria, and then have ALL the academic classrooms arrayed in trailers with covered walkways connecting them. We could save a fortune in construction costs and ongoing maintanence.

    Free standing buildings that are permenent worked well in the past when populations were not in such flux. They are not really working anymore.

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