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Unusual situation of Wake County school board and county commissioners hiring opposing lobbyists

Can the Wake County school board and county commissioners put aside their differences to get a school bond issue on the ballot this fall and help to get it approved?

As noted in today's artice, it's novel if not unprecedented for two governing bodies in the same county to hire lobbyists to oppose each other in the state legislature. Combine that with the harsh words exchanged at their meetings and you've got what's a dysfunctional situation.

"The thing that I think is saddest is that the legislature is going to be arbiter, rather than having them work it out for themselves," said State Rep. Deborah Ross, a Raleigh Democrat.

1360234864 Unusual situation of Wake County school board and county commissioners hiring opposing lobbyists The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wake County school board committee to discuss Athens Drive Stadium

The long-proposed renovations to Athens Drive High School's stadium will be discussed during today's Wake County school board facilities committee meeting.

The committee will discuss recommendations from a master planning effort conducted on Athens Drive Stadium. Several parents, frustrated by the lack of progress on the renovations, have hired a lawyer threatening to go to court.

The committee will also discuss whether to use the remaining startup design funds from the 2006 bond issue to work on two elementary schools or a middle school. This decision would accelerate which projects would be finished first when money comes from a future bond.

SEE UPDATE AT END OF POST.

Wake County school board appoints Tom Benton and hires a lobbyist to fight commissioners

More to come later, but the Wake County school board picked Tom Benton to be its newest member and hired a lobbyist to oppose the legislative changes backed by the county commissioners.

Benton got four votes from Susan Evans, Kevin Hill, Christine Kushner and Jim Martin. Keith Sutton voted for Don Mial. Deborah Prickett backed Wendy Ford and John Tedesco chose Shinica Thomas.

The board voted 5-2 with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition to authorize interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey to enter into contracts to get people to lobby the General Assembly not to adopt the legislative goals backed by commissioners.

Commissioners want to change state law to take over from the school board the jobs of locating, constructing and owning schools. They also want authority to give money to help charter schools build facilities and to require that four of the nine school board seats be elected at large.

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.

Wake County school board on board vacancy, facilities utilization and voluntary desegregation

In addition to reorganizing the transportation department, the Wake County school board will appoint a new member today, approve a new voluntary desegregation resolution and discuss school facilities crowding and new school sites.

The board has set aside five hours to interview the eight applicants for the District 1 vacancy. They'll all be asked the same questions.

The vote will take place at the end of the regular meeting because the new member takes office once the vote occurs. Some board members were worried that the new member would vote tonight on items without being fully briefed.

1360062065 Wake County school board on board vacancy, facilities utilization and voluntary desegregation The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

David Menaker cites business experience in Wake County school board application

David Menaker argues that what the Wake County school board needs is someone like him who is a businessman and not another educator to fill the District 1 vacancy.

In his application, Menaker, 64, points to his experience as president of a company that builds homes and commercial properties and managing partner of a residential development company. The Wendell resident also notes he was an elected official in Kill Devil Hills and is now a single parent with a son at Lake Myra Elementary.

"You will, no doubt, get applications from suitable ex-educators, administrators, etc. — well meaning folks with public education experience — I am not one and suggest that you already have a staff full of that talent," Menaker writes in his application.

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.

Wake County Commissioners want at-large school board elections and ownership of schools

The Wake County Board of Commissioners will vote this afternoon on making at-large school board elections and a change in who owns the schools part of their 2013 State Legislative Agenda.

Commissioners want local legislation making a majority of Wake County school board members be elected on at-large basis. This change could have major ramifications on the school board, where all nine members are elected by district.

Commissioners also wants the authority to own school sites and facilities that are purchased by the school system. In a related issue, the legislative agenda also includes a request for legislation that would allow the county to provide funds for charter schoools to build their facilities.

Commissioners have long wanted at-large school board elections and control of school property. The difference now is that commissioners could succeed with Republicans controlling the General Assembly and the governor's mansion.

UPDATE

The 2013 State Legislative Agenda was approved on a 4-3 partisan vote with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition.

Wake County's enrollment caps keeping 22 students out of their base school

Nearly two-dozen Wake County students are facing the impact of the enrollment caps that were placed on some schools for the rest of the school year.

Laura Evans, senior director of student assignment, said that as of Wednesday 22 students have been capped out of their base school for the rest of the school year. The information was shared during Thursday's joint meeting of the school board and county commissioners.

“It’s not something like we do, but we also don’t like excessively crowded schools," Evans said.

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.
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