Local News

Wake School Board's Land Purchase Process Up for Debate

Posted July 17, 2007 6:27 a.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2007 10:39 a.m. EDT

— The protocol for land purchases will be debated when the Wake County school board meets Tuesday.

A 32-acre spread in Apex recently caused a stir. The school board agreed to pay $8 million for the land but then backed out last month after it appraised for half that amount.

"(It) raises some questions in my mind, not because it's my dollars. Because it's the taxpayers' dollars," said school board member Ron Margiotta.

Now, the school board wants to buy 20 acres in Cary and 46 acres in Rolesville. However, those purchases are on hold for at least a month.

Before approving any more land sales, the Wake County Board of Commissioners is requiring a checklist that includes ownership history and appraisals.

"We've given the county commissioners all the information that they've asked for. I'm aware of no information that they've requested that they've not received."

Commission Chair Tony Gurley said he believes the county should take over responsibility for buying land and building schools.

"If we're accountable, we need to be in control, and that's not the situation right now," he said.

School officials said they are concerned, too, and want to evaluate their process. One area under consideration is the use of real estate firms to scout land.

"This is a good time to see if this is effective. We need to see if we're getting the most bang for our buck if you will," said assistant superintendent Don Haydon.

School board members are trying to finalize those land deals in Cary and Apex. The deadline to get those pieces of land at the current asking price is July 31.The board is talking with the sellers about extending that deadline.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the school system's Administration Building, located at 3600 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.