Wake School Board, Commissioners tussle over schools


The meeting came just a day after the North Carolina Senate passed a bill allowing Wake commissioners to take over the role of financing and building new schools in the county. The proposal now heads to the House.

Until the future of that bill is decided in the General Assembly, it's unclear who would control the purse strings if a $800 million school construction bond approved by county commissioners and school board members last month is approved by voters.

School leaders want to add 32 schools by 2018-2020, among other things. In all, the project amounts to $900 million, but the district has $122 million on hand already.

During Thursday's meeting, school board member Jim Martin got testy while wondering if they would be able to convince voters to pass the bond.

"They're asking for us to all sing 'Kumbaya' on a bond when there's no plan as to who is actually going to do the construction. The public's not going to support this," he said.

The bond would cost tax payers about $145 a year more in property taxes or about $12 a month.

"The $12 a month is very much reasonable number, but the public has to have confidence the schools will be built by people who know how to build schools, not just people who know how to build prisons," Martin said.

County Commissioner Paul Coble said it's not the amount they have a problem with; it's the way it would be spent.

"The voters want to know that they're getting the biggest bang for their dollar they can get and all this group has said is we're going to keep doing things the way we've always done them," he said.

The two sides will have another joint meeting and are hoping to have all the details hammered out next month.

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