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Group of Republicans publicly back Wake County school bond issue

Several local GOP elected officials and business people are publicly distancing themselves from the Wake County Republican Party's opposition to the $810 million school bond issue.

In an opinion piece today by developer John Kane and Raleigh City Councilman John Odom, they stress that the Aug. 19 vote by the Wake GOP's executive committee to oppose the bond was only by a one-vote margin. They write "that it is simply not true" that all Republicans and conservatives oppose the bond issue.

"We represent a group of Republicans who support the referendum," the opinion piece states. "That is because it is a fiscally conservative plan presented with the most cost-effective way to pay for it.

Commissioner Phil Matthews charges Wake County is overcrowding school buses

Phil Matthews, vice chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, claims he knows how the Wake County school system has improved its bus service this year.

“I think I know how the Wake School System is working out the school busing issue,” Matthews writes Monday on his Facebook page. “It was brought to my attention that some kids are either forced to stand in the aisles or sit in the aisles because the seats are full. If a large bus holds 78 kids, how many are they forced to transport to make things look good? This is a disaster waiting to happen. This needs to be fixed immediately!!”

Renee McCoy, a Wake schools spokeswoman, says they can’t respond to Matthews’ statements without knowing the exact bus and route number. McCoy said that they’re continuing to encourage people to complete the district’s online form if they’re dealing with an overcrowded bus or other bus issue.

Some Apex parents had charged during last year’s school bus issues that students were sitting on the floors and aisles.

Fallout over school construction bill spills over into Wake County school bond meeting

it's safe to say that the ongoing struggle over who will control school construction in Wake County had a noticeable impact on Thursday's joint meeting of the school board and county commissioners.

As noted in today's article, several heated exchanges between school board members and commissioners took place as they discussed this $939.9 million school construction program. Officials readily acknowledged that the Senate's passage of Senate Bill 236 on Wednesday helped raise the emotions.

"You’ve got some lingering tension over the victory we had in the Senate yesterday,” said Joe Bryan, chairman of the board of commissioners, in an interview. “We’ve got to come together to get a bond passed.”

Joint meeting ends in heated exchange between Paul Coble and Jim Martin

More to come later, but there was an abrupt end to today's joint Wake County school board and board of commissioners meeting on the bond issue.

School board chairman Keith Sutton adjourned the meeting early to cut off the heated exchange between Commissioner Paul Coble and school board member Jim Martin. Coble accused the school board of not showing how it was going to stretch dollars to save money while Martin accused him of not making honest statements to the public.

In one particularly heated moment, Martin asked Coble to say how he'd save money. Martin asked if Coble wanted mandatory year-round, saying he'd offer to share with him all the letters from parents who hate the idea.

Wake Education Partnership on balancing new schools vs. renovations in next school bond issue

The Wake Education Partnership is offering some insight on the tricky balance that the Wake County school board will face between renovation and new schools in the upcoming school bond issue.

In the latest issue of In Context, WEP notes Thursday that building the maximum number of new schools will ease crowding. But not doing renovations could lead to a case of "you can pay me now or pay me more later" as problems build up over time.

"Finding the right balance will be frustrating," the WEP writes. "Commissioner Phil Matthews asked if it wouldn't be cheaper to just knock down the old schools and replace them. The short answer is, it's not."

1366981266 Wake Education Partnership on balancing new schools vs. renovations in next school bond issue The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Republican Wake County Commissioners criticize school board

The bad blood continues to flow between the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the school board.

As noted in today's article by Martha Quillin, Republican commissioners accused the school system of misleading taxpayers about its fund balance. The GOP majority also tabled approval of a land purchase for a northeast Raleigh middle school and accused the school board of engaging in politics in wanting them to approve buying the former YWCA building in Raleigh.

GOP commissioners said they were speaking for the taxpayers. But Democratic commissioners said Republicans were endangering development of the next school bond issue and harming relations with the school board.

State legislature expected to pass Wake County school changes

It looks like the Wake County school board should be prepared to see the General Assembly pass the legislative changes requested by county commissioners.

As noted in today's article, State Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, House Speaker pro tempore, said Wednesday he expects the GOP-led legislature to pass this year new laws that would allow Wake County commissioners to take over ownership of schools and to require that some Wake school board seats be elected on a countywide basis.

Stam also said he’s expecting a bill to pass this year that would allow all counties to help charter schools build their facilities.

Wake County Commissioners discuss school issues Tuesday

You might have been wondering whose meeting you were attending on Tuesday as school issues came up at the meetings of the Wake County school board and county commissioners.

As noted in today's article, commissioners voiced their concerns about the school system proposal's to add unarmed private security officers to every elementary school. As noted in today's article by Josh Shaffer, school board members reacted to the school issues that the commissioners were voting on as part of their 2013 State Legislative Agenda.

All this suggests a rocky road ahead as they work together on the bond issue and school funding.

Speculating why Wake County's school enrollment didn't grow as fast as expected this year

For various reasons, such as slowing growth and tensions with commissioners, it's looking like the Wake County school system will shy away from asking for as much as a $1 billion bond referendum this year.

As noted in today's article, school board chairman Keith Sutton said after Thursday's joint meeting they'll talk with commissioners to work out a compromise for a lower bond total. It will be based on the school district's needs and how much commissioners are willing to raise taxes.

As for the growth projection, there was a lot of speculation about why it has slowed, especially this year. Reasons cited by officials from both boards included the poor economy, problems with the choice plan and bus service and people opting out of the school district.

1358523251 Speculating why Wake County's school enrollment didn't grow as fast as expected this year The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Joe Bryan on reestablishing and restoring the relationship between the Wake County school board and county commissioners

Joe Bryan talked about restoring the relationship with the Wake County school board fresh off his election today as the new chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners,

Bryan was elected chairman in a 4-3 party line vote with all the Republicans voting for him and all the Democrats voting for Betty Lou Ward. In a similar 4-3 vote, Phil Matthews was re-elected vice chairman over James West.

Bryan acknowledged how strained relations have become between the school board and commissioners in the past year. He'll likely be working with Keith Sutton, who is expected to be elected the new school board chairman on Tuesday by the Democratic majority.

"I see the biggest challenge that we face personally is trying to reestablish, to restore our partnership wit the Wake County Board of Education and to in fact bring about a successful school bond issue for this coming year," Bryan said during his acceptance remarks.

1354563855 Joe Bryan on reestablishing and restoring the relationship between the Wake County school board and county commissioners The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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