Wake County Schools

Wake school construction needs on 2013 agenda

Posted January 1, 2013

— The largest school bond in Wake County history could be on the ballot this year, if county commissioners and school board leaders can see eye-to-eye on the future of the school district.

Finding seats for 3,000 to 5,000 new students every year is becoming increasingly difficult, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan and Board of Education Chairman Keith Sutton agree that a construction plan is critical.

"There's like 16 elementaries (needed), five middles schools, six high schools, lots of renovations," Bryan said Tuesday.

"Capacity is key to our success," Sutton said. "Whatever plan or approach we put in place to address not only student reassignment but the growth will hinge on our capacity."

A bond referendum is inevitable, and Sutton said the Wake County Public School System likely needs more than $1 billion to build and renovate schools.

A bond that size could add as much as 8 cents to the tax rate for Wake County residents, so Bryan and Sutton said they plan to look for alternatives to ease the pinch, such as incremental steps.

"There may, in fact, be a series of smaller bonds and more frequent bonds, as opposed to one large bond," Sutton said.

In November 2006, Wake County taxpayers approved a $970 million school bond.

The two board also might need to reach some compromises before a new bond issue is put before voters.

Joe Bryan with Keith Sutton Wake commissioners, school board to work on school bond

For example, the school system has historically used bond money to build and operate schools, but in recent years, commissioners have discussed taking greater ownership of the district's schools.

"Since it is the taxpayers that are funding these schools, we'd like to be in charge of building them," Bryan said.

Sutton said he sees no reason for the school board to cede control.

The two chairmen said they will work hard to rebuild a relationship between their boards that has been strained in recent years.

"The main way to do that is through dialog and conversation," Sutton said. "Some of those conversations will be difficult, no question about that."

Both boards plan to meet monthly to determine the size and scope of the bond, and Bryan and Sutton said they hope to have some details worked out by March.

They said the biggest challenge will be winning over the public, and they are working to provide more stability for families with children in school after several years of upheaval in student assignment.

"I think it will take some time for the commissioners – for the public – to get history behind us," Bryan said.  "We have to show a school bond issue would solve that issue and increase the awareness of stability for families."

63 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • Nancy Jan 2, 4:33 p.m.

    Until and unless they use a master school building plan and build the same model at each location,we get a raw deal. Further, these schools should be designed with a core building THEN add spoke buildings attached to the core for expansion and reduction as needed, we're paying too much for each school.

  • Taffy Jan 2, 3:47 p.m.

    Take a look at the schools I referenced. All sorts of fancy brick trim & special finishes. I watch 2 of the 3 schools being built as I lived right behind them. They may be award winning designs, but that's NOT what is important to education. Teacher and the tools & supplies needed to teach are what is needed. And a previous commentor mentioned the property the school district bought & then sold at a loss because they couldn't use the site. They have been squandering money right & left. Not to mention the severance package for Tata. Wake County Schools are a money pit with less & less education to show for the money spent!

    Wake County needs to take a lesson from Johnson County. Simply designed schools, several different plans to fit the terrain the schools are being built on... Taffy

    Wake Co uses prototypes, including award-winning ones. Design guidelines are for plain schools. They do exactly what you recommend.

    http://www.raleigh-wake.org/page/rolesville-high-school-wins-maj

  • Screw WrAl Jan 2, 3:38 p.m.

    Needs? I don't think so. I don't know a soul in their right mind who would vote to give this asinine school system another dime, I certainly will not.

  • westernwake1 Jan 2, 3:37 p.m.

    "westernwake: I checked the street address, 2620 and 2628. Both of them show WCPSS, DKK Dev LLC, then what looks like a family. Raleigh people with the family's last name contributed to Romney ($3k) and Dems ($2K) over the last decade. None are big contributors. DKK doesn't show at all.

    I love following the money, though - thanks!

    http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/CSearch.aspx

    http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/advindsea.shtml

    http://services.wakegov.com/realestate/" - babbleon

    Thanks for looking for the info. I am stuck on a conference call, but I will try to look through the links again and also try find my old WRAL thread later.

  • sbr1963 Jan 2, 3:24 p.m.

    As long as the clowns of this board of education are still serving, I will not be supporting any bond issue.

  • babbleon Jan 2, 3:23 p.m.

    westernwake: I checked the street address, 2620 and 2628. Both of them show WCPSS, DKK Dev LLC, then what looks like a family. Raleigh people with the family's last name contributed to Romney ($3k) and Dems ($2K) over the last decade. None are big contributors. DKK doesn't show at all.

    I love following the money, though - thanks!

    http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/CSearch.aspx

    http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/advindsea.shtml

    http://services.wakegov.com/realestate/

  • NiceNSmooth Jan 2, 3:13 p.m.

    Anyway I will vote "no" on any and every bond issue. It is past time for people to start paying to educate their own children.

    We do ... its called property taxes!!!

  • superman Jan 2, 2:58 p.m.

    Keep in mind that it takes 3 to 5 years to build a school. So even with a new bond issue there just aint no quick fix. Anyway I will vote "no" on any and every bond issue. It is past time for people to start paying to educate their own children.

  • westernwake1 Jan 2, 2:56 p.m.

    "The only counties flush with bond money for construction are the poor counties - that aren't growing. The lottery distributes the money based on tax rates - counties that have the HIGHEST tax rate per $1,000 of property getting the most. Since Wake has such valuable property the tax rate is relatively low. You can go to the lottery website and click on Where the Money Goes to see how much Wake and other counties get. Last I heard, Wake doesn't get enough to even build one school each year" - SaveEnergyMan

    The following website provides an overview of where the lottery money goes. Only 22.7% of the funds go for school construction. Sadly the general fund has been reducing the money spent on education in North Carolina since the lottery was put into place. The original intent was to have the Lottery supplement the general fund, instead it has replaced it.

    This site also allows you to view each county. -

    http://www.nc-educationlottery.org/beneficiary.aspx

  • SaveEnergyMan Jan 2, 2:29 p.m.

    The only counties flush with bond money for construction are the poor counties - that aren't growing. The lottery distributes the money based on tax rates - counties that have the HIGHEST tax rate per $1,000 of property getting the most. Since Wake has such valuable property the tax rate is relatively low. You can go to the lottery website and click on Where the Money Goes to see how much Wake and other counties get. Last I heard, Wake doesn't get enough to even build one school each year.

More...