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Panel Seeks Biggest Bang From $970M Wake School Bond

The election is over, and a historic school bond passed as a result. Now the task of repairing old schools and building new ones has begun, and it will all be done under watchful eyes.

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A notebook full of facts and figures is not exactly a recipe for an interesting meeting. Nonetheless, there was excitement Tuesday because of what the meeting could lead to for Wake County schools.

"I think this is a good vehicle to help the public know what's happening with their money," said Fred Aikens, a member of the Citizens' Facilities Advisory Committee for the Wake County school system.

Five months ago, the group of 13 started looking at how the school system spends money on schools. Their questions, said committee member Billie Redmond, included, "Are there better ways, better alternatives? Are there less expensive ways to deliver a school?"

With voters' approval of a $970 million bond on Nov. 3, the committee could influence how the money is spent.

"I think the information we provide to the public is very powerful," said committee member Terry Stoops.

For now, the committee is just gathering information. But in January, a consultant will deliver a report comparing how Wake spends money to build schools and how it is done in similar school systems across the state and country.

Stoops, a member of the conservative John Locke Foundation, cautioned that this group can only recommend change.

"We have no power by which to change the way the school system does anything," he said.

If they recommend change, however, many committee members feel it will be hard to ignore and that it will be timely.

"We won't really see those buildings start construction for several years," Redmond said. "I'm very hopeful about our ability to be impactful."


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