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Supporters Face Uphill Battle In Selling Wake School Bond

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RALEIGH, N.C. — When it comes time to market a proposed $970 million school construction bond in Wake County, supporters will face two challenges: selling it to taxpayers who don't want a property-tax increase and selling it to parents who feel they were burned by reassignment.

The nearly $1 billion package would pay for new schools, land and renovations. If approved on Nov. 7, taxes on a $150,000 house, for example, would increase by approximately $54 a year.

But some parents whose children are slated to attend one of as many as

23 elementary schools to be converted to mandatory year-round schedules

say they have no incentive to vote for the bond.

"At the end of the day, the school system needs money," said parent Lisa Nesbitt. "I recognize that, but nobody's going to vote for a bond that makes life absolutely painful to have kids on year-round and traditional (schedules)."

Nesbitt said she would rather pay more money to avoid year-round schools.

"I'm not going to vote for a bond that will make my life miserable," she said.

Parent groups such as Assignment By Choice relate to the frustration and say the bond proposal is going to be an uphill battle, but proponents say voting in favor of it could slow down more schools converting to year-round schedules.

"I promise you one thing. If we don't build schools, we'll expedite the process by which more people are converted to the year-round process," said WakeMed CEO Dr. Bill Atkinson, co-chairman of Friends of Wake County, the group that will market the bond to the community.

Most of the advertising will roll out after Labor Day, but the

Web site

is up and running now.

Atkinson said by voting down the bond, voters are delaying the inevitable. It's cheaper, he said, to pass the bond.

If the bond fails, school board members say every school may convert to year-round schedules with high schools pulling split-shift schedules.

Wake County commissioners could borrow money through other means, but those options come with higher interest rates than bonds.


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