Wake County Schools

Value of school renovations a focus of Wake bond debate

Posted September 24, 2013

— Supporters of an $810 million bond for school construction and renovation on Tuesday turned Garner Magnet High School into the poster-school for why they say Wake County voters need to approve the bond next month.

Dehumidifiers run nonstop in the 46-year-old school's library to fend off mold, and 14 modular classrooms as far as a quarter-mile from one end of the school house students in the overcrowded school.

"They have been here at least as long as I can recall, including 1992, when I was a student," Principal Drew Cook said of the classroom trailers.

The school bond, one of the major issues on the local ballot in the Oct. 8 election, would pay to build 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. Almost $245 million of the bond would go toward major renovations at six schools, including Garner High, and to replace aging heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems at dozens of other area schools.

"This will cause a tax increase, but it's worth it. We need to make the investment," said Joe Bryan, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Enrollment in the Wake County Public School System is projected to increase by 20,000 students over the next five years, and Bryan and other officials said the new and renovated schools will help the district keep up with the growth.

Critics of the bond say they don't question the need for the renovations. They just question the cost.

"There are six renovations that cost at or more than what building a new school would be," said Duane Cutlip, vice president of the East Wake Republican Party, one of several groups urging voters to defeat the proposal.

School bond rally at Garner High Aging Garner High showcases need for school bond

Cutlip said the bond would put the county into too much debt. Repaying the bond also would add 5 cents to the county's property tax rate, meaning it would add $75 to the annual tax bill of the owner of a $150,000 house.

A bond focused strictly on school construction isn't worth the cost, he said, calling for more discussion of school building needs.

"If it's not going to help academics, we want to take a closer look at it," he said.

At Garner High, which is slated to receive $67 million in upgrades from the bond, Cook said buildings can have everything to do with academics.

"Some of our kids can talk to you, perhaps, about the frustrations involved with sweating through an (end-of-course) exam or a couple of years ago taking the SAT in the two-story building where the sewage overflowed," he said. "They got to listen to the hum of a sump pump while taking the SAT. These are the kinds of things that we deal with every day."

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  • karrgal77 Sep 30, 2:41 p.m.

    always on the backs of the homeowners. I havent seen a raise in 6 years. Voting a big NO! Make due with less thats what I have been told. WCPSS should do the same.

  • ishami Sep 27, 8:53 a.m.

    Providing almost a billion dollars to radical leftists is not a very wise thing to do. They punish regular citizens even when they have limited funds(ask future students of Friendship High).

    Can you imagine the pain Susan Evans is going to dish out on her opponents when she has her share of a billion to spend?

  • ConservativeVoter Sep 25, 5:05 p.m.

    "I have no kids in school so why should I pay more ? Because they children will be the ones paying your Social security. I want them to be well educated so they can do that, don't you?
    A person"

    Seeing that social security is supposed to be insolvent by 2029, that's a moot point.

  • rasengineers Sep 25, 11:55 a.m.

    All these tough guys extolling the virtues of no air conditioning remind me of my father. He constantly told the rest of the family that air conditioning was an unnecessary expense, even after he put a window unit in his bedroom. The rest of the family was left to sweat.

  • krimson Sep 25, 10:29 a.m.

    "I have no kids in school so why should I pay more"

    ME! ME! ME!

  • baldchip Sep 25, 9:50 a.m.

    Bond issues are far easier on cash flow than emergency repairs or just plain paying for new schools in cash. Remember, that new Rolesville HS cost nearly $75M. And they need to build 2 of them.

    If WCPSS was smart, they would adopt a single architectural plan for each type school-grade, middle, and HS. That would reduce expenses considerably to build a new school. JoCo is doing that with the only visible difference being the color of the metal roof!!!

    This is the price of a growing metro area.

    Have fun!!

  • A person Sep 25, 9:35 a.m.

    I have no kids in school so why should I pay more ?
    Because they children will be the ones paying your Social security. I want them to be well educated so they can do that, don't you?

  • Wheelman Sep 25, 9:33 a.m.

    If it costs more to renovate than to build a new one, then just tear it down and build a new one.

  • jdkey Sep 25, 8:52 a.m.

    OK-here is a thought for all that want the bond to pass..
    We all pay our fair shair in taxes--if you want an increase in funds then TAX the parents of the kids going to Wake county.. NOT everyone.. Put the burden on the parents of school chrilden..I have no kids in school so why should I pay more ?

  • lets_b_real79 Sep 25, 8:43 a.m.

    It's time we invested in education. I vote YES!!

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