Local News

Wake County officials want to buy, build schools

Posted May 5, 2008 7:31 p.m. EDT
Updated May 5, 2008 9:11 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— A proposal to shift more authority to the Wake County commissioners for building and maintaining schools could help cool the commissioners' sometimes heated relationship with school board members.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday expressed its support for the idea, which the Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce proposed in April.

Under the proposal, the Wake County Board of Education would let commissioners buy land for schools and then design, build and maintain them.

County attorneys assured commissioners that such an arrangement would not violate state law and that it could work like any other inter-local agreements.

Supporters argued that the proposal would allow the school system to focus on educating students and keep disagreements between the two boards to a minimum.

Commissioners and school board members have publicly clashed over land purchases in the past year, with commissioners saying the school system was paying too much for land in a number of cases.

Supporters also said the arrangement would take advantage of the county's exemption from the state sales tax when it buys supplies. State law does not extend that same privilege to school systems.

County officials estimate that Wake lost $615,981 by not transferring school deeds to the commissioners earlier. School officials put the figure at $70,000.

Since commissioners have indicated their support for the arrangement, the Board of Education must next signal its willingness to do so also.