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Wake commissioners give $80M to school projects

Posted October 21, 2008

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— Wake County commissioners on Tuesday decided to make an additional $80 million available for school projects that were shorted funds after the county was unable to sell bonds.

The money means that all new school projects will continue in addition to all major renovation projects, with the exception of Wilburn Elementary’s relocation plan, which will be reviewed in March.

Last month, the county 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.

“It would mean that we would have crowded schools. We may not be able to have seats for all students,” school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

Last week, the Wake 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.

The $80 million would have been used for funding later in the building process, but was moved up to be used now, officials said.

"It was a surprise, a great surprise,” Gill said.

Delays in planned school construction caused by the unstable economy would have disrupted long-range student assignment plans, Wake County school officials said.

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 have always received the information on a year-to-year basis.

The $80 million means that multiyear assignment plans will be handed out, but will be delayed by a few weeks. Officials said Tuesday that the second and third year assignments will be based on proper funding, officials said.

Also as a result of the decision, a program that keeps computers and technology up to date will continue.

“That’s imperative. We have to keep technology updated in all of our schools, all across the county,” school board member Beverley Clark said.

Wake County school board members were scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide which projects they must delay in light of the tough economic times.

"We are not sure what is going to happen with the economy tomorrow or next week, or next month, or six months from now,” said Don Haydon, the school district's chief facilities and operations officer.

School district officials met last week to discuss how to reschedule building projects to accommodate reduced financing.

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  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Oct 22, 2008

    Fair enough, I could see computers at the high school level but at the elementary school level it seems my wife and myself are providing the basic skills. It seems to be the curriculum(the math book this year is of very poor quality). Last year we were told "I'm not worried about spelling when they write because in the future they'll have spell-check." So basic skills in speaking, writing, and math should be the focus. At high school level let's prepare them for working, including providing a course for those that don't want or need college. I am curious, and this would be a great story for WRAL, is that with the high cost of school construction are some of these costs related to disaster preparedness? should the department of homeland security be coughing up some dough to pay for some of the additional costs? anybody know anything about this?

  • AWakeMom Oct 22, 2008

    Lucas provides a "special transportation" need. Homeless families get special trans, usually children with special needs and they can't be put on the bus get special trans. The child does need to have an IEP. But just your average, everyday child cannot get special transportation. More often than not, the child attends their base school, unless their needs dictate a school that meets their needs. They are a contractor, (admitably a high priced one) and WCPSS does pay them.

  • nisa-pizza Oct 22, 2008

    chrisbcpa,
    I can't say I agree with you completely on that. You can hardly get a decent job without having some IT skills nowadays. You need basic IT training AS WELL AS basic skills. Computers are here to stay and are a vital part of every business, every day the business operates. I honestly can't think of one business that doesn't use a computer at some time or other. I own a small business myself and can't imagine doing my ordering, inventory, correspondence, budgeting, paying bills without the help of my computers.

    My nephew who went to an IT magnet high school tested out of 3 of his required college classes for computer school. He'll graduate early and is going for his MBA because of IT training.

    To send a student out after graduation w/o the necessary skills to function in a prospective job is not acceptable. Unless they want to be a security guard, janitor or something along that line. There will be a need for computers in most well paying jobs out there.

  • onyourheels2 Oct 22, 2008

    does wake co pay for these lucas transportation cars. i see them all over wake co with usually only one kid in the car. if so, can someone explain.

  • AWakeMom Oct 22, 2008

    whatelseisnew - of course it continues to get more expensive. More students come in = more teachers and staff = more buildings = contractors charging more = the current economic resession we're in. It all connects. I just want everyone to realize that Del Burns walked head on into these headaches. He didn't START them -- these plans and policies were already in place when took the job -- why are "we" blaming everything on him? Change doesn't happen overnight.

  • ContinuityMan Oct 22, 2008

    The state lottery is a lot like those bogus red light cameras. The deals were cut in back rooms, without public input, and were propagandized to the public as a novel way to raise money for education. No intelligent or feeling person could argue with that, right? WRONG! Neither of these idiot schemes have raised a penny for public education, but the companies supplying the equipment and services are doing quite well.

    Some of the bozos who forced these de facto taxes on us are up for re-election this year. Think of it as finally getting your turn to vote on these issues.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 22, 2008

    AWakeMom - Certainly you are entitled to your opinion. However, this scho0l system continues to deteriorate and get more expensive year over year. The solution is to slowly but surely replace the current system with an entirely different system. Once that focuses on Academics instead of the current social issue of the day. Apparently those in control of the money really do not get yet just how bad it is going to get. They need to halt all projects in place and not borrow any more money. The school system needs to figure how to accomplish more with less. They should call on the legislature to provide methods to reduce the population of students in the GOVERNMENT system.

  • whatusay Oct 22, 2008

    So this $80 million belonged to Wake commissioners..that's the way the article heading reads. Seems this is the way government thinks.

  • veyor Oct 22, 2008

    The title of this article should have read "County Tax Increase Seen On The Horizon".

  • bs101fly Oct 21, 2008

    happymom,
    help get the word out then,
    go to
    http://www.takeourschoolsback.org/2008_Candidates.html
    and anyone NOT for "at large" vote 'em out!

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