Local/State

Wake Schools bond debate heats up

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

There's less than 40 days until Wake County residents head to the polls to vote on an $810 million school bond referendum, and the school system took to social media to gain support.

As the debate over the school construction bond heats up, officials turned to Twitter to fan the fire. In the wake of Tuesday's air conditioning problems at Enloe High School, the school system posted this message on their account:

"#HVACprobs? Gives us a good reason to bring up the upcoming bond, which includes HVAC replacements."

The $810 million bond package includes $533 million for new schools, $244 for renovations, and $64 million in technology upgrades.

Former Wake County School Board Chair Ron Margiotta says the bond is too excessive and isn't needed. He's the latest opponent in the school bond fight, joining the Wake GOP and the Wake County Taxpayers Association.

"Do we need to build new schools? Yes we do. However we don't need this bond referendum. We don't need to build palaces as what we have been building for many years," Margiotta said.

Margiotta says slower enrollment growth and more competition from charter and private schools call for a more reasonable plan.

"Going back to our 2006 referendum, we built more schools than were ever anticipated because there were true savings due to the recession. In addition to that, not nearly the number of students came to Wake County that were expected, again, due to the recession. So there are available seats throughout the county," Margiotta said.

But the referendum's supporters say new schools and up-to-date technology are needed to keep up with future growth.

The state's largest school district anticipates 20,000 more students over the next five years. Friends of Wake County says passing the bond is the reasonable choice to avoid a larger price tag down the road.

"If we don't get this bond passed, we'll still have to supply the space. It will cost us about $25 million more in additional interest and to those anti-tax people I would say ok help me with the logic on this now," Friends of Wake County member Phil Zachary said.

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Tags:
wake county, wake county schools, local/state, heather waliga
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