Local News

School Board Wants Meetings With Wake Leaders About Growth

Posted July 4, 2007 11:29 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2007 1:21 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Board of Education is planning a series of meetings with leaders of Wake County municipalities to discuss ways to manage school growth.

With about 33,000 newcomers expected to arrive in Wake County by 2008, the flood of development crowds schools and leaves school board members looking for ways to handle it.

At a May 8 school board meeting, member Beverley Clark pitched an idea for an adequate public facilities ordinance, in which developers would pay a fee to build when schools are overcrowded.

The ordinance is already in place in Franklin County. A similar one has been approved in Orange County.

"The idea behind it is if schools are over capacity, the developer can wait to build until schools are in place, or they can pay a fee that will add more seats to the school," Franklin County planning director Pat Young said.

One year after putting the ordinance in place there, Young said, it has raised $20,000 earmarked for schools.

But many developers do not want communities in Wake County to take this approach, saying it will encourage developers to go elsewhere or pass the costs on to consumers.

"I would challenge anyone out there to show me where an APFO has built a school," said building consultant Chris Sinclair with the Triangle Community Coalition. "It hasn't."

Sinclair said he does not believe the impact fees work. He would rather see public-private partnerships in which developers build schools and lease them back to the school system.

Still, Franklin County says it is seeing results.

"We're not going to get good quality growth unless we have good schools," Young said.

Franklin schools are not overcrowded, and administrators hope their plan helps them avoid that.