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Credit crunch to affect Wake school assignments

Posted October 14, 2008

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— Delays in planned school construction caused by the unstable economy will disrupt long-range student assignment plans, Wake County school officials said Tuesday.

The county last month shelved a $450 million bond sale because credit markets had frozen amid the national economic crisis. The bonds were to have paid for new schools and libraries and expansions at Wake Technical Community College.

On Monday, the county Board of Commissioners voted to float a short-term, $300 million bond anticipation note to fund projects that had already started and to carry the county until the markets improved enough for a regular bond sale.

School district officials met Tuesday morning to discuss how to reschedule building projects to fit with the reduced financing, and Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning, said pushing the schedule back will prevent the district from sticking to a multiyear student-assignment plan.

The district had promised to let parents know what school their children would be assigned to for the next three years. The idea was to make things more predictable for families who used to get the information on a year-to-year basis.

Dulaney said projecting assignments out three years would be impossible if district officials are not confident about when schools would be built or expanded.

A delay of a month or two could push the overall construction schedule on some schools back enough to delay them from opening for an entire school year, officials said.

If new schools aren't opening as previously scheduled, the school board might have to again look at converting traditional-calendar schools to year-round schedules to keep up with enrollment, board member Patti Head said.

"I imagine we are going to be looking at some pretty major delays," Head said.

Last week, the board voted to switch two year-round schools – Baucom Elementary School in Apex and Green Hope Elementary School in Cary – back to nine-month schedules because of lower-than-expected enrollment growth. The two were among 22 elementary and middle schools the district converted to year-round calendars last year – a move that prompted a parents group to file a lawsuit that is now before the state Supreme Court.

Even with the bond anticipation note, some of the more than 20 current projects might have to be suspended because of low cash flow, said Don Haydon, the district's chief facilities and operations officer. Officials expect to have a list of those projects by next week, he said.

"We have cash-flow issues," Superintendent Del Burns said. "We have new construction in various stages. We have renovation projects, both large and small, in various stages."

32 Comments

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 15, 2008

    More excuses for our poor quality education system that's more concerned about diversity than the quality of education that our children receive.

  • colliedave Oct 14, 2008

    some of the more than 20 current projects might have to be suspended because of low cash flow

    What are these projects and how many are essential for the education of our children? The days of the school board playing with Monoply should be over. Need to bring in some retired execs from Wal-Mart to run WCPSS.

  • bs101fly Oct 14, 2008

    what a big ole shame, Chuck's great 3 year plan won't be able to go ahead as planned because it would have to be changed thanks to the economy.
    Yo' Chuck, don't tell us more of YOUR bold face LIES, you would NOT have been able to stick to it EVER and you have made 14 excuses as to why ever since you came up with this stupid idea!
    I bet you change shirts 4 times in the morning before you convince yourself the 4th one is THE one!
    Face it Wake County, your public school system is following quickly in the footsteps of our economic crisis, totally unrelated, but the caving in of a system that has worked for decades is at hand!
    And poor Don Haydon, just don't know what to do now do you Don!?

  • kimberly1110 Oct 14, 2008

    Graduation rate is a totally different subject. It is AWFUL in this state (at least we're better than the one below us). I used to teach in a county where the graduation rate was below 50%. A lot of it has to do with parents and the way children are brought up and what they should believe it. Most of my students' parents didn't finish high school so they think it's ok to drop out. It's stressful for teachers, because they (well most) are doing everything in their power to keep kids from dropping out. There's only so much a person can do though...

  • Tolip Oct 14, 2008

    'For example, it gives some children from "poorer" areas to go to top notch schools.' From which some 30% NEVER GRADUATE! I am missing the point. Rich or poor, black or white or brown, why do 30% of NC school never graduate high school?

    Something more than bussing is required! Just my opinion.

  • hkypky Oct 14, 2008

    "Dulaney said projecting assignments out three years would be impossible if district officials are not confident about when schools would be built or expanded."

    Of course! Any excuse WCPSS can use to reassign kids all over the county and play the broken MYR record and they'll try it.

  • kimberly1110 Oct 14, 2008

    Seems like most of you disagree with busing. While it does have its setbacks, there are some positives. For example, it gives some children from "poorer" areas to go to top notch schools. A lot of it stems from the Civil Rights Act...I don't think busing was an intended purpose though, just look at Brown vs. Board of Ed.

  • Tax Man Oct 14, 2008

    "If new schools aren't opening as previously scheduled, the school board might have to again look at converting traditional-calendar schools to year-round schedules to keep up with enrollment, board member Patti Head said."

    Good old Patti and her same old ideas....

    First, end the busing! Take the funds saved and use for school building and improvements.
    Second, redistrict based on cities and towns - Cary should have its own schools, Apex also - if a town is too small then join it with a adjacent town. But get the waste out of the huge County system. Local schools, no busing, year-round as a choice - not forced.
    Third, the state should give all parents vouchers equal to what the state budget for each student for education. The parents can decide where to "spend" those vouchers - public, private, parochial, home schooling, charter schools. Let the schools compete for our dollars - give them a reason to excel!
    Last, don't subsidize school lunches - use "food stamp" program for poor.

  • fletchermse Oct 14, 2008

    "By the way my son went to year around schools and they were fine and his Middle school was 8 miles away one way, so what. In an area as big as Raleigh what do you expect? If you want small town then move lighten up our infrastructure.
    "

    That's almost completely irrelevant. The size of Raleigh has nothing to do with the time or distance to get to school. The locations of each school does matter. If anything, rural kids will go longer distances because of the low population density.

    Check out a map of the schools:
    http://www.wcpss.net/annual-reports/2001_annual_report/map/

    Elementary and middle school kids (more rural students being the exception, as noted above) shouldn't be going more than a couple miles to their nearest school. Because there are fewer high schools, 8 miles seems more reasonable. However, most Wake County residents will have a high school somewhere within 3-4 miles.

  • veyor Oct 14, 2008

    bama211 - I guess the convention center and Fayetteville Street are infrastructure, but it's unnecessary. Reservoirs and schools are necessary. I would include in the unnecessary all the walkways over four lane roads and greenway trails around the city. The convention center, Fayetteville Street, walkways, greenways, etc. are fine, but should come after the needed infrastructure is built. So I basically agree with you.

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