Local News

Wake to Push Ahead With Details for Public-Private School-Building Concept

Posted October 16, 2007 9:04 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County school board Tuesday told its staff to proceed with plans for creating a public-private partnership to have a new elementary school ready to open in 2010.

At its meeting, the board told Assistant Superintendent for Facilities Michael Burriss to push ahead with guidelines for creating the new arrangement in which a private developer would propose to build a school and lease it to the district as a profit-making enterprise.

The school would meet  Wake County Public School System standards, Burriss said, but the private-sector partner would design and build it.

Burriss said he hopes the district will have details in place to be able to advertise a request for qualifications for a school partnership by Nov. 10.

Legislation passed in the state this year makes a public-private partnership possible, Burriss said.

The first attempt at a partnership would use a site the district already owns, but future projects might involve a developer looking at a school as an investment that could compete with retail or other projects as the best way to use land the developer owns or controls, Burriss said.

It may be possible, Burriss said, that a private entity can "do it better, faster and maybe a little less expensive" than the system could build a school itself.

In another decision, the board approved a middle-school design that would use a "cafetorium" to have space do double duty as a cafeteria and an auditorium.

The design will go into effect with the Holly Grove and Mills Park middle schools that are slated to open in 2010, the district said.