Things got testy last week as Wake County school board members argued over which schools to approve spending money to design.
As noted in Sunday's North Raleigh News article, the school board voted 6-2 to approve spending $2.4 million to start designing M8 in northwest Raleigh, E20 in northeast Raleigh and Scotts Ridge Elementary in Apex. The vote took place after board members traded barbs over whether those were the right choices.
School board members John Tedesco and Debra Goldman objected to none of the schools on the list being from Southeast Raleigh. They argued that more new schools need to be built there to create the capacity to allow local kids to return under community schools while also preserving spaces for magnet seats.
"If you look at the raw number of seats in that part of the community with all the schools combined, there's not enough seats to allow those kids there and to allow magnet school kids there at the same time," Tedesco said.
During the discussion, Sutton asked Tedesco about the capacity figures in Garner. Garner is in Tedesco's district. Click here for the handout last week with capacity figures.
Tedesco responded by bringing up the capacity figures for Southeast Raleigh, which is in Sutton's district.
"No, I was asking for Garner," Sutton said to Tedesco. "I was wondering if you were as well versed in your own district as you are in mine."
Sutton's remark drew a laugh from the crowd.
"Then I'd suggest you get better versed in yours," Tedesco shot back at Sutton.
"I'm good," Sutton responded to Tedesco.
"You don't want to put schools in yours, that's your loss," Tedesco fired back. "I want to put schools in yours."
One of the reasons Southeast Raleigh didn't make the list is that the district doesn't currently own any additional land there to build new schools. The one new school opening in that area is Walnut Creek Elementary in 2011.
In addition to the magnet school argument, Goldman questioned how they could go ahead with approving the design work before the new assignment model is adopted. She said Wake shouldn't spend the money just because they have it available.
But Tedesco and Goldman ultimately lost on the vote. It was the members of the usual four-person minority faction who provided most of the votes to get it passed.
Goldman had more success in blocking Chris Malone's attempt to modify the resolution to add E25 in Wake Forest to the list. Malone had talked with Don Haydon, chief facilities and operations officer, before the meeting about coming up with additional money for E25, which is in his district.
Goldman objected to Malone bringing his motion to the table without prior discussion by the full board.
"That doesn't make any sense to me," Goldman said of adding the fourth school.
Malone said he was only trying to maximize the board's opportunities.
The vote on Malone's motion was 5-3 against. Deborah Prickett had seconded the motion but later voted no. If she had voted yes, it would have led to a tie with school board chairman Ron Margiotta making the final decision.
Malone said it was "unbelievable" after the voting ended. In addition to him, only Sutton and Kevin Hill had voted yes.
Pending approval of the county commissioners for the design money, the school board will have until this time next year to decide which two schools to build. The $59 million in school construction savings is only enough to cover two elementary schools or M8 and one elementary school.
The school not picked, along with E25, would likely have to wait until the next bond issue for the money to build them.