Local News

Another School Bond This Year Would Fail, New Poll Shows

Posted February 2, 2007 9:11 p.m. EST

— The same day school and Wake county leaders met to discuss funding school bonds, a new poll out shows another multimillion-dollar bond this year would fail.

The independent poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, shows little support for Wake County commissioners' recent proposal of another multimillion-dollar bond so soon after a $970 million bond passed in November.

Public Policy questioned more than 960 likely Wake County voters this week. Sixty-eight percent said they would oppose another bond in October, while 26 percent said they would vote for it.

Sixty percent indicated they would prefer to vote on the bond in 2008 or 2009, which was the Wake County Board of Education's original plan when it proposed last year's bond.

Members are now considering whether to move the referendum to this year's ballot.

The poll also shows people nearly evenly split on mandatory year-round schools with 49 percent supporting them and 43 percent opposing them.

In a special meeting with the school board on Friday, commissioners said their suggestion to put the bond on the ballot this year is not to rid the school system of mandatory year-round schools but to offer more choices.

But in a move last month that surprised many school board members, county commissioners voted to withhold about $3.4 million the school system said it needed to convert 22 elementary and middle schools to a year-round schedule.

Commissioners also withheld $3.7 million that would be used to relocate mobile classrooms from schools that were slated for year-round conversion.

School board leaders Friday urged commissioners to reconsider their decisions.

"We have to give the teachers the equipment they need, so they can be ready (for the school year)," school board member Lori Millberg said.

County commissioners said they wanted more information from the school board and would be likely to give the school system money for the mobile classrooms if they are at schools with a traditional calendar.

The county board says that will offer more flexibility for parents who do not want their children to attend year-round schools.

"People feel like there is not a choice in certain parts of the county," Commissioner Paul Coble said.

Considering more options, the school board on Thursday, presented plans that create 2,400 additional seats at traditional-calendar schools. Parent with children in year-round schools would have to apply.

County commission Chairman Tony Gurley has asked the school system to find more options for parents before the year-round funding issue is resolved.

School board members say they have been and will continue to look for more seats in traditional schools so they can get the money back.

"I don't want the public to think we haven't done that, because we certainly have," school board Chairwoman Patti Head said. "But we heard their issues, and we are trying to get back together so we can talk about them."

The school board will try to get the requested information to the commission before the funding vote, which is scheduled for Monday.