You can call this a compromise or a game of chicken, but the school board is only willing to pay a little more than half the $1.4 million cost for road work near Panther Creek High School.
The school board voted 5-4 this afternoon to authorize its leadership to negotiate with Cary to pay up to $750,000 for the road improvements. The inability to work out a deal has blocked the use of 22 modular classrooms on Panther Creek's campus.
"This is not how our funds are supposed to be used," said school board member Beverley Clark, who proposed the $750,000. "Our funds are supposed to be used to build schools.”
Cary is requiring Wake to construct an additional northbound through lane on N.C. 55 from McCrimmon Parkway through the intersections of the ramps at N.C. 540.
The school system initially asked for a waiver from the work, but Cary Town Council members said in November that they couldn't legally grant an exemption.
Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht has said a waiver would leave the town vulnerable to lawsuits from developers.
Citing the economic conditions, Weinbrecht said the town can't offer to pay all or part of the estimated $1.4 million cost of the road improvements. He said it's fair for the school system to pay because it has received $64 million from Cary since 2000 in the form of cash, infrastructure improvements or land.
Weinbrecht said the town has tried to be reasonable by giving the school system up to three years to start the work and four years to complete the project.
School and town leaders met privately Monday to try to resolve the dispute. As a result of the meeting, board members argue that Panther Creek's operating hours won't impact traffic as much as the town thinks will occur.
Duringt today's meeting, Cindy Sinkez, who has two sons at Panther Creek, lashed out at the school board for not having the modulars ready by now.
“It is not the community’s fault," Sinkez said. "It is the board's fault and you need to fix it.”
Today's vote was 5-4 with Clark, Patti Head, Anne McLaurin, Lori Millberg and Rosa Gill voting yes.
Kevin Hill, Horace Tart, Ron Margiotta and Eleanor Goettee voted no.
Goettee complained that the school board's refusal to pay the $1.4 million is endangering their ability to get the modular classrooms ready for students this year. Overcrowding has forced compromises such as students meeting in the school library.