Wake County Schools

Wake commissioners want say in building, maintaining schools

Posted November 18, 2013

— Wake County commissioners voted Monday night in favor of a proposal that would give them more say over how county schools are built and maintained.

The 4-3 vote along party lines is the latest chapter in more than a decade of power struggles between the county commissioners and school board.

Commissioner Tony Gurley said he put the item on Monday's agenda because school board members are beginning to plan how to use the $810 million in bond money voters approved last month.

“Now’s a good time to ask the school board to basically give county commissioners a seat at the table to determine how that money is spent,” he said.

The proposal would let the county and school board jointly decide to let the county take over some or all responsibility for particular properties owned by the school system.

That's a different approach from last summer, when Gurley asked lawmakers to pass a bill that would have taken control of Wake County school property away from the Democratic-controlled school board, giving it to the Republican-controlled county commissioners instead.

Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley Wake commissioners want say in maintaining, building schools

The takeover bill was shot down twice. Gurley says his newest proposal is a compromise.

“Instead of us demanding everything and the school board denying us everything, the current law allows us to cooperate, and that’s what we are trying to do,” Gurley said.

Republicans said the talks should start immediately because they're concerned about bidding processes for several new schools. The proposal would require the school board to verify that it's complying with state contract law. Democrat Caroline Sullivan said the board of commissioners should be asking for the school board's cooperation rather than mandating it.

The Wake County school board didn't know about the proposal in advance. School board Chairman Keith Sutton said he couldn't comment on the specifics until the board discusses it.

The commissioners asked the school board to vote on the agreement at its Dec. 17 meeting.

10 Comments

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  • krimson Nov 21, 10:09 a.m.

    Timex: "It demonstrates that the school board is more concerned with process and how they are perceived rather than doing the work of the people of Wake county and educating our children."

    No, I think it demonstrates that most socially well-adjusted people like to be asked nicely to do something instead of being told to do something.

  • timexliving Nov 20, 6:23 p.m.

    "Democrat Caroline Sullivan said the board of commissioners should be asking for the school board's cooperation rather than mandating it."

    That's a petty comment. It demonstrates that the school board is more concerned with process and how they are perceived rather than doing the work of the people of Wake county and educating our children.

  • miseem Nov 20, 2:53 p.m.

    Nothing wrong with the County Commissioners have an opinion on school issues. If they can come up with a fiscal issue the school board has overlooked, or has contacts or information that can assist the school board in construction and maintenance savings, by all means, present it. However, they should not have a veto on school board decisions. If the school board goofs up, they will face that at the next election. Regardless of claims that the county has more experience in contracts, construction and maintenance, the school system has probably spent more annually, on average, than the county commissioners have on building construction over the last 2 decades. If so, maybe the county needs to cede construction contracting over to the school board.

  • babbleon Nov 20, 10:42 a.m.

    My problem with the school board is that they need to make all schools year round. Doesnt make economic sense to have so many schools vacate for 2 months just to please parents. superman

    The Dem board had more schools year-round and got loud and vocal protests (see: http://saveoursummers.com/ ). They were trying to be responsive to their constituents. From my point of view, it's a straight line from SOS to the GOP board and the 'neighborhood schools' movement.

    Neither traditional calendar years nor neighborhood schools make economic sense. I've been saying all along these choices will cost more. The question is whether the majority is willing to pay for these luxuries.

  • superman Nov 19, 5:19 p.m.

    Gurley is power hungry. He cant elected to a high office on his own. He is a political has been like John Edwards. The school board seems to have done a good job with school construction. My problem with the school board is that they need to make all schools year round. Doesnt make economic sense to have so many schools vacate for 2 months just to please parents.

  • Flipper Nov 19, 12:02 p.m.

    I, for one, welcome this additional oversight. The Wake County School Board has proven time and again that they can't be trusted in financial matters and have cost the taxpayers millions of dollars over ill-conceived and often partisan decisions.

  • krimson Nov 19, 10:40 a.m.

    So the Board of Comissioners just voted to give themselves more power. How convenient?!? What a crock...

  • babbleon Nov 19, 9:37 a.m.

    Somehow, I expect next year's related story to be 'Investigating County Commissioner Ties to Developers'

  • paul2345 Nov 19, 8:50 a.m.

    Mr. Gurley: the school board are elected officials just like you. They will be held accountable to existing laws (just like you). While they may or may not have much expertise in education or the needs of the school system, they likely know MORE about both than the county commissioners. You should do your job and let them do theirs. We the voters will praise and punish both groups according to their competency (or nepotism) within their respective realms. Should you not be more concerned about other county issues, such as long-term transportation needs/options, smarter development (or restraint on development), and all the non-education things we elected YOU to focus upon? Prove to us you can do YOUR job first, before doing others.

  • tired2 Nov 19, 8:29 a.m.

    Talk about power play - why not just combine the WCC and School Board...Republicans just cannot stand not to have control - Gurley should run for Mayor of Toronto - he acts just like Rob Ford