Wake County Schools

Wake school board holds ground on building control; Benton sworn in

Posted February 19, 2013
Updated February 20, 2013

— The career educator appointed to fill one of two vacant seats on the Wake County Board of Education was sworn in Tuesday ahead of a looming showdown between the board and county commissioners over who controls school buildings.

Thomas Benton, who worked for decades as a teacher and principal in Wake County schools, will represent District 1 in northeast Raleigh for the rest of Chris Malone's term, which expires in November. Malone resigned from the school board in December after being elected to the state House of Representatives.

Next month, the board is expected to start the interviewing and voting process for a second new board member, who will replace Debra Goldman. Goldman resigned from the board last month after accepting a job in Wilkes County.  

Benton joins the board at a critical time, when there is division over how to handle the Wake County Board of Commissioners' 2013 legislative agenda, which includes taking away ownership and oversight of school sites and buildings from the school system and giving it to commissioners.

After the commissioners approved their legislative agenda last month, the North Carolina School Boards Association came to the Wake County school board's defense by releasing an official position on school property ownership, said Chairman Keith Sutton.

The school board then drafted a resolution in support of the association's stance – that local school boards, not county commissioners, should control school properties – and voted 5-2 to approve it Tuesday night.

The NCSBA has also asked 114 school boards across North Carolina to approve similar resolutions.

Sutton said school boards have experience buying, building and maintaining schools, while commissioners do not.  Benton sworn in Benton takes Wake school board seat as political showdown looms

"We know what we are doing," he said.

Vice Chairwoman Christine Kushner agreed, adding "it's very important to state our desire to control the building our employees work in."

Board member John Tedesco, however, said he has reservations about going head to head with commissioners, and would prefer both boards sit down and discuss the issues facing Wake County students, families and taxpayers.

"We've got a lot of fighting and swords swinging, and a whole bunch of kids in the middle," he said.

The school board and county commission plan to meet Thursday.

20 Comments

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  • me2you Feb 25, 12:08 p.m.

    Neither one are experts. What qualifies them? As Raleigh Rocks commented...I can see how they would only get in the way instead of helping. There's too many chiefs and unnecessary process when it comes to gov't.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Feb 20, 4:47 p.m.

    Caryregressive, you would lose the bet.

    I made a comment in regards to the article, that is Sutton saying dont take building of schools away from us because they know what we are doing.
    My initial comment was no they do not, and gave solid examples of why. Not to mention following up with reasons why this school board is nothing special when it comes to building schools. I can say based on personal experience this board and its bureaucratic ways actually make it cost more.

    You then have made up a claim..IE I bet you'd be singing a different tune if this was the ONLY conservative county in the state getting board of education powers taken away from them...AND THEN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR MADE UP CLAIM...Its as if you were talking to yourself and answering too!

    None of your comments are relative to the article. Please go and redistribute somewhere else, or comment on the article.

    Conservatives want an efficient education system is all. If you call that destroying, then so be it!

  • Cary Progressive Feb 20, 3:56 p.m.

    "John is part of the problem and the solution would be for him to resign. He thought he was smart enough to win a state office." superman, that's blasphemy to say that about the savior Tedesco! wasn't he trying to destroy the school system and government in general like you conservatives want? ronny reagan would be ashamed that you guys can't or won't outright admit you want to destroy public education like in the good ole days....

  • Cary Progressive Feb 20, 3:50 p.m.

    Hey RaleighRocks, I bet you'd be singing a different tune if this was the ONLY conservative county in the state getting board of education powers taken away from them. That's what's so depraved about conservatives: when they don't get their way, they try to take power like fascists. Much like the national GOP blackmailing democrats into the sequester or else they'd blow up the world economy. Pathetic.

  • cjw6105 Feb 20, 3:50 p.m.

    Sutton: "We know what we are doing."

    He sure does. The county commissioners are voted on by all Wake voters, while Sutton and his ilk are voted on by only a small percentage of Wake voters. In fact, District 1 had NO vote on Benton, who was sworn in today as their rep; likewise, District 9 will have no vote on Goldman's replacement next month.

    It's really simple, folks- it's all about power. The school board doesn't want to be held accountable by Wake voters, yet they want to run the Wake public school system lock, stock and barrel.

    Wake citizens are getting just what they deserve, especially when the forced busing for diversity goes back into full swing in another year or two.

  • superman Feb 20, 2:35 p.m.

    John is part of the problem and the solution would be for him to resign. He thought he was smart enough to win a state office.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Feb 20, 1:55 p.m.

    Golden said....Schools ARE special buildings subject to rules that don't apply to other buildings. Boo hoo if this inconveniences a contractor.

    What..no inconvenience, just part of the cost to build. Id like to know what specific ones you think they are as well.

    What I am trying to communicate to all who will open their eyes... it makes no difference if it is a special needs building, a hospital, a bank, a charter school, a movie theater, a motel, an outpatient center, a university or anything else (All of which I have been involved in the construction process) The regulations (either from the state or federal or anyone) are incorporated into the bid documents (Specs) which is the architects responsibility to provide. It does not take a School Boards involvement whatsoever to get it done. I or anyone else could hire an architect or a design/build company right now to build a school.

  • injameswetrust2003 Feb 20, 11:14 a.m.

    "The last thing we needed was a career educator on the school board" - whatelse

    I think what you really meant to say was, we don't need another liberal head-nodder that will do whatever Mr. Sutton and the deposed chair Mr. Hill and the liberals want to do.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Feb 20, 10:04 a.m.

    Thanks 4strikes and Whatelseis new. Could not have defended the comment better.

    Seankelly15, I AM just another conservative that wants efficient Government. Why is efficient government a conservative ideal? Why do not liberals want efficient government too?

    Here is information that may help you.....There are 16 divisions based on the Construction Specifications Institute. These 16 divisions have many subdivisions. I can assure you there are not state and federal requirements in all of these.

    It is the architects responsibility to build any requirements that the State or federal government would mandate into each divisions specs, which in turn assures the bid provided from contractors will meet the specific building standards.....

    To coin your phase..If you truly were involved then you would know this.

  • themacs Feb 20, 9:58 a.m.

    "The last thing we needed was a career educator on the school board."

    Riiiiight. The last thing we need is a combination of education and experience related to the objective of the group.

    In fact, why would experts in anything be needed or desired? Shut down the military academies and ROTC programs and fire the generals and admirals. Let's avoid "more of the same failed ideas" and VOTE YES ON MILITARY CUTS!

    (Equality in nonsense?)

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