Wake commissioners, school board reach construction accord
Posted February 27, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education have hammered out an agreement to end a long-running tug-of-war over who controls school construction.
Under a proposal announced Thursday, the two boards will create a Joint School Facilities Core Team to lead research, evaluations of site acquisition, design and construction of Wake County public schools.
The school board is expected to approve the deal next Tuesday and the Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on it March 17.
“Our community expects us to build and renovate school buildings to accommodate our growing population and keep schools up-to-date," school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said in a statement.
"We are ready to move forward and do what’s best for the community," commissioners Chairman Phil Matthews said in a statement.
Control of school construction and maintenance – essentially ownership of all school buildings and land – has been a hot-button issue for the two boards for several years.
Commissioners argued that they should have the final say because they control local funding for the Wake County Public School System. They also criticized some land deals approved by the school board as overpriced.
The school board, however, said the design of schools is an integral part of the educational process and needed to remain under the board's control. They also disputed the allegation that they paid too much to build schools.
The dispute came to a head last year as the two board tried to work together to pass an $810 million school bond. The state Senate twice passed legislation that would shift control of the schools to the Board of Commissioners, but the House defeated the measure both times.