How will Wake Schools spend $810 million?

Now that the multi-million dollar school bond has been approved, spending is under the microsope
October 9, 2013 3:47:34 PM PDT
The approval of the $810 million school bond means that how and when Wake County schools spend taxpayer dollars is now under the microscope.

Voters approved the plan on Tuesday, but Wake school leaders still have to wait to cash the check on one of the largest construction projects in the school system's history.

A small number of Wake County's registered voters turned out on Tuesday, saying yes to the multi-million dollar school bond. The money will provide for 16 new schools, six major renovations, and technology upgrades throughout the county.

"I'm proud of the decision they made that they recognize with the growth that's occurring in our county, 20,000 young people in the next three years that we need to build new schools," Wake County Commission Chair Joe Bryan said.

Under the plan, Garner High School is slated to get a $70 million renovation, but construction will not start until next summer.

It also raises property taxes with a 5.5 cent increase, which is roughly $145 more each year on a $260,000 home. County commissioners will not approve that number until budget season in June. Tax increases won't show up until next year's bills.

"The actual model has the 5 cents being implemented immediately this June and then a half percent or so as the operations occur, but my hope is that we'll be able to incrementally increase the taxes over time and not all at once," Bryan said.

In the meantime, those who still oppose the bond say they will be keeping a close eye on how county and school leaders spend the money.

"I've been very disappointed, frankly, in some of the voters in Wake County who thought this was a good idea," Ed Jones of the Wake County Taxpayers Association said. "We're going to be watching the school system and the county commissioners like a hawk."

Some of the planned projects are already in the design phase, but most construction isn't likely to start until summer or fall of 2014.

The school construction bond runs out in three or four years. School and county leaders are already looking at the possibility of requesting another bond issue in 2016.

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