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Wake School System Heads List Of Those Seeking Budget Help

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Late Monday, Wake County Commissioners were getting a wish list from everyone who wanted to be included in next year's budget.

Wake County Schools were asking for the most money.

School leaders say old buildings need basic renovations to stay open, and they need new schools to house the students that move into the area every year.

Raleigh's Enloe High School is 40 years old and in desperate need of a makeover. School leaders say it will cost $42 million.

"We can't continue to band-aid these schools and get by with what we have left and teach adequately for the students," said Mike Burriss, assistant superintendent for facilities.

The pipes beneath parts of the floor at Enloe have long since rusted. Steam coming up from the pipes is knocking off the floor tiles. Administrators say that, until they replace the heating and cooling system, there's no point in replacing the tiles.

"This space is designed for technology 20 years ago," television production teacher Curry Leslie said, surveying his studio. He said ssace is so tight at Enloe that his studio doubles as a classroom.

"The students, when they come in, will bring the chairs out, set them up as a classroom," he said. "Then they'll put the chairs away. We'll do an activity, then they'll bring the chairs back out."

Renovating Enloe is one of 20 projects the Wake County school system has on a building priority list. The price tag for the whole list is more than $850 million.

About half of the money for schools would come from a bond referendum put to voters in November. County commissioners must complete their budget by June 30.

County commissioners had planned on spending about $450 million. They said the rest of the money likely would come from a tax increase.

"We can say to the voters: 'We could do this much without a tax increase, or we can 868 million with a tax increase,'" said Herb Council, chairman of the county commission. "We could let the voters decide that. I'm hoping in the end result, we'll come up woth a compromise."

A compromise that everyone hopes will bring Wake schools into the 21st century.

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