Concerns over Wake school construction

October 28, 2008 3:45:50 PM PDT
Residents are concerned Wake County leaders are downplaying expectations over school construction. Last week, it was announced that no school projects were going to be delayed, but some are concerned the news was portrayed as too good.

Construction is already well underway on a number of wake schools projects. Some are new buildings. Others are renovations. And, for the time being, all those projects will continue.

But for projects a bit further down the road --an elementary school set to open in 2011 or a middle school that's supposed to come online in 2012-- officials will have to wait and see.

"I think some school projects will be delayed," Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley said.

A memo, sent from the Wake County Manager to the schools' superintendent, was sent after a school board meeting last week.

The manager expressed concern that the public came away from that meeting believing that "all projects can be implemented as planned." The memo says "is not accurate."

Gurley agrees, everything will depend on whether the frozen credit market thaws.

"We have made available to the schools monies to allow existing projects to go forward, but future projects really depend on selling those bonds," Gurley said.

"We understand the economy. We understand the cash flow. So we're going to move with caution," School Board Chair Rosa Gill said.

Gill says no one with Wake schools meant to give the impression last week that all projects were on course for the long-term.

"We going to evaluate it on a month-to-month basis," Gill said. "We are just happy that they are allowing us to move forward, knowing that we have to maybe delay some or postpone another year or push it back."

In 2006 voters passed a bond package that called for selling $970 million in bonds for school construction.

So far, only about half of those bonds have been issued. There are still many school projects that could get delayed.


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