Local News

Higher Student Enrollment Adds To Need For $970M School Bond

Posted September 24, 2006 12:36 p.m. EDT

— Wake County school leaders originally expected 7,000 new students this school year, but 20 days in, that number is closer to 8,000. That adds even more heat to school officials to push a $970 million bond issue in the November elections.

With at least 40,000 new students expected in just the next five years, Wake County's growth is a burden for school leaders and for taxpayers who have to pay for it.

  • Video:

    School Officials Try To Sell $970 Million Bond To Wake Voters

    "I feel like one minute I was living in Raleigh, and I wake up and I am living in New York City," said parent Gloria Williams. "I don't know what happened."

    Williams spent part of her Saturday at Martin Street Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh at a meeting to learn more about the school district's plan to handle all of the growth.

    As the mother of a middle school student, she said she'd probably vote for the bond issue.

    "We need it," said Williams.

    That's the message that Chuck Dulaney, the school district's growth manager, is giving to groups.

    "If you think about what teachers are, maybe at heart we are salesmen, because as an elementary teacher and principal, I was trying to sell kids on the idea that success is a great thing," said Dulaney.

    Most opponents agree that some kind of school bond is necessary, but they want something smaller than the $970 million proposed bond. If approved, taxes on a $150,000 house, for example, would increase about $54 a year.

    Opponents have said they want a smaller bond, about $600 million, that wouldn't require a tax increase.

    Terry Stoops with the John Locke Foundation said he wants the school district to find creative ways to cut costs. One example is an old Winn Dixie store that is being turned into a ninth-grade center for Wakefield High School.

    "It seems like every time a bond is around, that's when the school system wants to get innovative," said Stoops. "They should be innovative every year."