Wake school construction bond likely to be delayed

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Since former superintendent Tony Tata's firing, Wake County school board members continue to pump the brakes on key initiatives regarding the future of the school system.

Last week, the board decided not to go through with a revamp of student assignment, but instead use 2011-12 student assignment maps to decide where children will attend school next year. And Wednesday board members tentatively agreed it would be best to let voters take up a bond referendum next fall rather than next spring.

The school construction bond could range anywhere from $400 million to $1 billion to pay for new schools in the county.

Here's a partial account of yesterday's facilities committee meeting from the Wake Ed Blog.

“There’s been a lot that’s gone poorly in the last few months,” Evans said. “The extra time will help us re-earn the public’s trust.”

While Evans is focusing more on the loss of trust from problems such as the bus problems and choice plan complaints, Malone said the public has lost trust over the firing of Superintendent Tony Tata.

"Considering what they did with Tony Tata and the public anger over it, moving it to November makes sense," Malone said.

Malone also said that a fall 2013 referendum, when there's already going to be elections, will save money. A May 2013 referendum would mean having to pay for a special election.


Wake is under the gun to get a new bond in place. The last construction bond was passed in 2006 and was set to expire in 2009. Because the recession slowed the boom of incoming students that Wake experienced in the mid-2000s, the old bond money has been extended to pay for new school construction. However, many major renovation projects have been put on hold.

The school capacity picture isn't pretty either. Core capacity (which accounts for the amount of students that can use a schools' central facilities, such as its gym and cafeteria) is already very near 100 percent. The measure for capacity that takes into account mobile classrooms is closer to 90 percent.

The bond referendum previous to 2006 was defeated in 1999, and another defeated bond would almost inevitably mean bad news for already crowded schools.

You can read an excellent piece by Bob Geary about Wake County's "growth wars" from 2007.

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