Wake County commissioner want control over school construction


They voted along on party lines to ask the school district to share the power of the purse when it comes to new school construction.

Republicans commissioners tried in the past to take complete control from the school board, but it didn't work. Democrats say this new proposal isn't much better.

"The people want us to talk. They don't want this bickering to continue," said Democratic Commissioner Caroline Sullivan. "

There was vigorous debate Monday over a request asking the Wake County's School Board to share control of new school construction and maintenance with county commissioners.

"There is nothing at all being forced upon the school system with this agreement," said Republican Commissioner Tony Gurley.

With a four to three tally, Republican commissioners forwarded the proposal to the Democratically-controlled school board. It's a vital and timely move they say since voters just approved an $810 million school bond last month.

"I don't think we have the luxury of waiting three or four months to look at this," said Republican Commissioner Paul Coble.

This attempt at joint power is much more diplomatic than last summer's when Republican commissioners wanted state lawmakers to pass a bill giving them complete say-so over Wake school property decisions.  It's an effort Democrats call futile.

"If we try to force feed this thing, it's going to be dead on arrival," said Democratic Commissioner James West. "So, nobody will get what they want."

The inter-local agreement would require the school board to verify its obeying state contract law. Republicans are hoping it will cut costs, and open doors to more local contractors building schools.

"We want to make sure that we can get in and try to save the taxpayers some money as we go forward," said Coble.

Democratic commissioners have warned that the outcome of this won't be good if the school board sees it as strong arming.

The county wants the school board to vote on this proposal at its Dec. 17 meeting.

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