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School board to ask Cary for help or waiver on school road project

Wake school leaders say the system can't afford a $1.4 million required road expansion near Panther Creek High School in Cary.

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CARY, N.C. — Wake County school leaders will ask Cary's town council Thursday evening to pick up the tab for road improvements required to expand Panther Creek High School or to waive them.

Because the current fiscal crisis has made it difficult to sell bonds for the $1.4 million road expansion along N.C. Highway 55 from McCrimmon Parkway to N.C. Highway 540, Wake school leaders say, they don't have the money to pay for it.

The school system wants to open three modular units in January on the Panther Creek campus to provide 22 extra classrooms to ease crowding. This school year, there are 530 more students than the school's 1,663-student capacity.

The school system applied for a building permit in May, and a traffic study determined the section of N.C. 55 needed widening to handle the increased traffic.

"I don't think it was ever anticipated it would ever be that amount of roadwork that had to be done," Wake County Board of Education member Ron Margiotta said.

Last week, the Cary council's Planning and Development Committee recommended denying a waiver, but some Town Council members said Thursday they hope to work out a compromise with the school system.

One option, they said, could be to give the school system up to three years to make the road improvements.

Cary, which has given $63 million to schools since 2000, also has a tight town budget, some council members said.

"So, it's pretty hard to fault them (Cary Town Council members) for being unwilling to pick up the $1.4 million," Margiotta said.

Some Cary parents say that in the end, students pay the price for poor planning.

"In effect, what they're doing is creating an impasse – a very dangerous impasse – which is preventing these trailers from going in," Panther Creek parent Joe Ciulla said.



Renee Chou, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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