County wants final say on new schools, location

April 4, 2011 3:50:43 PM PDT
Where new schools should be built or what land is used are decisions currently made by the Wake County school board.

The county has tried to get that power in the past, but long-time school board members say political differences and skepticism led to the school board holding on to that authority.

Now, Republicans hold majorities on both boards and the issue is coming up again -- this time justified in dollars and cents.

"If there's an opportunity here to save costs, increase efficiencies and do it in a way that doesn't jeopardize the quality of the education we're offering our kids, then I think we owe that to our taxpayers," said John Tedesco, Wake County Public School System Board of Education.

Tedesco is one school board member whose opinion on the issues has changed in the last year. He once argued against letting the county take over school construction but now says it's worth considering.

"I think we can find a way to structure it well that would allow for it to have all the efficiencies that we would get from the county managing construction, while not allowing for it to be used for gamesmanship over school board politics," Tedesco said.

Monday commissioners voted to send a letter to the Board of Education, offering to take over certain services including development of new school sites. Minority school member Keith Sutton says he's opposed to the change, arguing school business should be left up to the school board. Tedesco says the majority may see it differently.

'"If there's opportunities to allow us as a school board to spend more time focused on student achievement and less time focused on construction, I think that serves the taxpayers and children," Tedesco said.

The next school board meeting is Tuesday night, but the school construction issue is not on the agenda. It could be a couple of weeks before it is clear where the full board stands on the issue.

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