Education

Taxpayers group comes out against $810M Wake schools bond

Posted August 5, 2013

— The Wake County Taxpayers Association said Monday it opposes an $810 million school construction bond going up for a public vote on Oct. 8 that would help accommodate an additional 20,000 students over the next five years in the state's largest school system.

"Our concerns are the increasing bond debt that Wake County has, concerns about whether or not we truly need the additional school buildings," the group's chairman, Ed Jones, said.

Nearly 150,000 students attend the Wake County Public School System, and school district and county leaders project a 2 percent annual growth will push classrooms past capacity.

The bond – the first since 2006 when voters approved a $970 million referendum on school construction – would cover the cost of 16 new schools and six major renovations as well as the upgrade of technology and security.

As for debt from the 2006 bond, county leaders say another bond won't affect the county's AAA bond rating.

But Jones also cited a tax increase on residents as another reason the Taxpayers Association, which helped defeat a school bond in 1999, opposes the referendum.

It would require a 5-cent hike in property taxes, meaning, for example, that a Wake County homeowner with a house worth $200,000 would see a $100 annual increase.

"We want careful use of our tax money, wise expenditure of our tax money and not putting any taxes on us that are not necessary," Jones said.

School Bus Wake taxpayers group opposes school bond

Jones said he also believes that the number of school-age children attending private or charter or home schools, currently at 17 percent, will continue to rise.

"We feel students are beginning to go to more private schools," Jones said. "There's more in-home schooling being done, and the state has recently removed the cap on charter schools, and we think more students will go to these schools, and it will lessen the need for new buildings."

Bond supporters, however, have said that schools have to be built by law and that the funding to build them has to come from somewhere.

Friends of Wake County, the group tasked with selling the bond to the public, said that with no other source of revenue, bonds are the least expensive way to borrow money.

Even with the tax hike, the group said, Wake County would still have one of the lower tax rates in the state.

Friends of Wake County co-chair Billie Redmond countered Jones' concerns, saying a strong school system is also an economic driver for the county.

"When you start thinking, 'Why do people come? Why do people stay?' a big piece of that is the educational resources we offer our families and our children," Redmond said.

She points out that the bond is about more than bricks and mortar, it's about advanced technology, quality education and quality of life.

"Let's look at the cost of non-education or poor education. We see where that takes a community. We certainly don't want that," she said. "Missing the opportunity to educate a child is really hard to recover."

250 Comments

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  • markjb33 Aug 7, 5:44 p.m.

    NO - on any Bond

  • connieleigh4 Aug 7, 9:08 a.m.

    Why would they need more money for education when all the lottery money is suppose to be going directly to education here in NC??? Oh yeah, that was just another lie to get the lottery here in NC! Shame on you! NO MORE BONDS OR TAXES! Enough already! You are not getting anymore of OUR money!

  • LocalYokel Aug 6, 5:58 p.m.

    We still haven't paid the debt from 2006 bond and are considering another bond? This is not sustainable.

    How much of the $810M pays for athletics versus math, science, language, computer, and history education?

  • pappybigtuna1 Aug 6, 5:24 p.m.

    you like the bond, you want to pay the $10.00, then you can pay my $10.00 also; I don't want to give anymore

  • kelsland Aug 6, 4:54 p.m.

    I am tired of reading that this is only a bond for more new schools. This bond is also going to fund desperately needed renovations at current schools. My sons school is on that list and has NEEDED a renovation desperately for years. I personally think that if I have to spend about $10 per month more in property taxes it would be well worth making sure that the building my children are trying to learn in is updated and working properly.

  • krimson Aug 6, 4:26 p.m.

    NTFS: "fill the schools we now have, each and every seat"

    How do you propose we do that??? Oh yeah, busing children away from their neighborhood school to another much further away... Hey, weren't we doing just that a couple of years ago???

  • WralCensorsAreBias Aug 6, 4:06 p.m.

    "I don't want to hear one whiny word about busing distances, school choice, overcrowding or anything else from the cheapskates if the bond doesn't pass."

    This is Wake County, you're going to get the whining whether you want it or not.

    As for those things you mentioned, we have each and every one of those issues now.

    At some of our schools anyway.

    The others sit with empty seats and in some cases lots of empty seats. All we hear are more false growth projections and more sky-is-falling narratives.

    There's your starting solution, fill the schools we now have, each and every seat, then come talk to us about needing more. Don't give us the we have to hold seats for late arrivals argument. If they aren't here today they don't need a seat.

    This school board carries on like it does not need my money so they won't get my vote.

    It's that simple.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 6, 4:04 p.m.

    Plenty"-Actually, our results are decent."

    btneast-" You would settle for decent?"

    No, but I don't advocate funding schools less and pretending that our public schools are failing to serve a private school agenda. Private schools do no better than public.

  • krimson Aug 6, 4:00 p.m.

    "the current education system has demonstrated a rapidly increasing budgetary requirement, year after year, but the educational results are not improving"

    Each year, gas gets more expensive, and yet my car doesn't increase its efficiency - it still only gets 30mpg... Obviously, my car is a total and utter failure and needs to be trashed...

  • tgiv Aug 6, 3:45 p.m.

    "Yes, we need more teaching space, but the current education system has demonstrated a rapidly increasing budgetary requirement, year after year, but the educational results are not improving...."

    And year after year educational spending in NC lags at the rear compared to the other states in the country. Spending even less is SURE to improve results.

    I don't want to hear one whiny word about busing distances, school choice, overcrowding or anything else from the cheapskates if the bond doesn't pass. Far too many people really are more interested in complaining than finding solutions.

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