Wake County Schools

Wake school board members seek lawmakers' support in dispute

Posted March 4, 2013 5:12 p.m. EST
Updated March 4, 2013 7:03 p.m. EST

Wake County Public School System

— Members of the Wake County Board of Education appealed to state lawmakers Monday to keep them in control of area school buildings.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners has asked the General Assembly to transfer control of the school buildings and land to them from the school board. The commissioners maintain that they would be more fiscally responsible in operating the assets and that the shift would allow the school board to concentrate on policy and curriculum.

The move has sparked a feud between the two boards, which are trying to work together to get a major school construction bond on the October ballot and passed.

School board Chairman Keith Sutton asked the Wake County legislative delegation not to intervene in the dispute. The school board has more experience than county commissioners at managing schools and has even won awards for design and planning, he said, so that responsibility should remain with them.

"We think we do the best job at doing that. Obviously, the county commissioners feel differently," Sutton said. "So, I think it has come down to a battle of political philosophies."

Commissioners also want lawmakers to change how school board members are elected, saying they would prefer at least five members elected to countywide at-large seats instead of the current system of nine single-member districts.

No bills have been filed yet, but Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, is expected to file the school property proposal this week.