Wake County Schools

Wake schools leaders considering school construction bond

Posted July 10, 2012 10:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2012 11:00 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Board of Education's Facilities Committee met Tuesday evening to discuss how to meet head-on the growth that the state's largest school system is experiencing.

Over the past 12 years, voters have approved nearly $2 billion in bonds for school construction needs in Wake County. The last time was in 2006, when voters a $970 million bond referendum passed.

Now, Wake County school leaders are talking about another possible bond referendum that could go on the ballot as early as May.

How much is still unclear – school leaders should have a better idea later this month – but the average cost of a new elementary school is about $25 million. A middle school costs up to about $40 million, and a high school costs about $75 million.

Other factors in a bond would include technology needs and maintaining and refurbishing existing schools.

With the rate of growth in Wake County, Superintendent Tony Tata said he estimates a need for about three new schools a year.

The school system adds between 3,500 to 5,000 students a year. Last year, 77 schools were above 100 percent capacity.

At the same time, last year 44 schools were under-enrolled below 90 percent.

Tata said the new student assignment plan decreases that number. He said he is also using existing county buildings as schools space, too.

But those factors don't lessen the need for new construction, he said.

"As we move forward, we are going to need to add new schools," he said.