Local News

Incoming board members call for halt to proposed school

Posted November 5, 2009 10:04 a.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2009 10:44 a.m. EST

— A day after securing a majority on the Wake County Board of Education, a slate of incoming board members have called on the current board to stop work on a planned high school northeast of Raleigh.

Forest Ridge High School has been a sore point for neighbors, who are concerned about traffic and the impact on their community, and Wake County commissioners, who are upset over the rising cost of site development work.

Board member Ron Margiotta and incoming board members Chris Malone, John Tedesco, Deborah Prickett and Debra Goldman sent a letter to the school board Wednesday "requesting a stop to H6," the district's internal code for the planned school.

"We need to go forward in a judicious and thoughtful manner on any policy change," the letter said, "(but we should) suspend any future or currently planned spending on the H6 site, whether direct or indirect."

The Wake County school district a year ago purchased a site near the intersection of Forestville and Louisburg roads for the school, which is being designed for more than 2,200 students. Construction is set to begin next summer.

County commissioners have complained about the cost of clearing rocks from the site and building roads to it. Nearby residents and officials in Rolesville said the school should be built on a site about 3 miles away, saying it has better access to roads and wouldn't disrupt traffic on smaller side streets.

Wake school officials have said that going with another site could delay the opening of the high school by at least a year, which would delay any relief to overcrowding at other high schools.

The incoming board members said the district needs to listen to the public concerns about the planned Forest Ridge High site and halt all work on it to give another look to alternative sites.

"Sometimes, regardless of what one might believe is a good policy or program, when the people speak loudly enough, it is our job, that being the board and the staff, to amend our goals and to listen and act," the letter said.

The four new board members – three were elected in October, and Tedesco won a runoff election on Tuesday – don't take office until next month. Together with Margiotta, they have called for changes to the school district's student assignment policies and have promised to be responsive to parental and community concerns.