Raleigh, N.C. — The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday called for a truce in the power battle between the Wake County school board and county commissioners.
The ongoing tension between commissioners, who control the money, and the school board, which runs the schools, “is a blemish on the community that we need to explain,” said Chamber Chairman Jim Captain.
The Chamber came out against legislation that would give county commissioners more power over school construction and ownership. The group supports a shared responsibility with the school board, but believes both sides need to learn to get along first.
Wake commissioners have asked the General Assembly to transfer control of the school buildings and land to them from the school board. The commissioners maintain that they would be more fiscally responsible in operating the assets and that the shift would allow the school board to concentrate on policy and curriculum.
The move has sparked a feud between the two boards, which are trying to work together to get a major school construction bond on the October ballot and passed.
Chamber members said they are tired of talking about the boards’ combative nature when recruiting new businesses. Instead, they want to boast about school performance.
“We are not siding with anybody. We are looking for a long-term solution for a problem that has existed in the community for quite some time,” Captain said.
School board Chairman Keith Sutton called it a “very wise and courageous move on the part of chamber leadership," one that outlines the "best position to move forward."
County commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan said the sides are "way past" talking it out. "Once we get this legislation passed, then we can work on a true partnership,” he said.
Until then, the chamber worries the schools and the community will lose.
“The only winners in this should be the citizens of Wake County,” Captain said.