The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

Choose a blog

GSIW charges school board majority has wasted $113.5 million

Bookmark and Share

The Great Schools in Wake Coalition may not officially be endorsing any Wake County school board candidates, but it's arguably come out with a last-minute attempt to try to sway voters.

In a press release today, GSIW contends that the school board majority has wasted taxpayers $113.5 million since December 2009. How much of the items on this GSIW list would be considered waste could be debated.

“For almost two years, the Board majority has exhibited a lack of fiscal responsibility to taxpayers with ill-conceived, hastily made decisions,” said GSIW chairwoman Yevonne Brannon in the press release. "“When items are brought up for discussion by Board minority members who have repeatedly asked for supporting data, their reasonable requests are dismissed and multi-million dollar decisions are made without proper research, discussion of options, or the appropriate cost analysis.”

The biggest item on the GSIW list is the $52.6 million in 15-year leasing costs for the new school system headquarters in Cary. The school system contends it will save $29 million over 20 years in facilities costs by consolidating its buildings. But critics argue Wake can't sell for a good value the now unused admin buildings like the one on Wake Forest Road.

The next biggest item on the list is $15.4 million for abandoning the Forest Ridge High site. That was a figure initially given by school administrators that they've since backed away from.

Next comes the $14.1 million that GSIW says was wasted in lost capacity from converting Leesville Road Middle back to a traditional calendar.  

Then comes the $11.9 million in "sunken costs" for renovations completed at the Longview School in 2006. GSIW says that money has now been wasted because the campus will be converted to hold the new male single-gender leadership academy.

GSIW also points to what it estimates to be $2.175 million in one-time transportation costs and $1.333 million in annual transportation costs from the new student assignment plan. Staff and board members say that while costs will go up initially to implement the new plan, due to grandfathering, they believe they will drop afterward.

GSIW also charges in the press release that "these cost estimates don’t factor in millions of dollars in federal magnet grants and Disadvantaged Student Supplemental funding that will be lost because of changes made
to the Student Assignment Policy in 2010."

“The Board majority has not acted as a responsible steward of Wake County taxpayer dollars,” added Brannon in the press release. “Their decisions to, among other things, create new programs without first determining market demand, abandon already approved projects with significant sunk costs, and create policies that prevent us from securing federal grants is completely irresponsible.”

Brannon's charges about further loss of funding are speculative.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Thank God For Yvonne

I'm thankful for GSIW and the leadership that Yvonne Brannon has provided this community for many years.  When you stand up and express your opinion you should not be subject to personal attacks such as those John Tedesco has made.   GSIW is not just Yvonne Brannon.  It is citizens like me who try to understand the issues and make (or preserve) a better system.  When John Tedesco makes these kind of base insults, he insults not just one person but the whole organization.  I thought from his previous participation in GSIW events that he was interested in listening to all of his fellow citizens, but I guess I was mistaken.  I suspect that Ms. Brannon's point rang too true.    

The entire GSIW

The entire GSIW organization, and especially "stinky feet" herself, Yevonne Brannon, deserves to be insulted. They spew lies and innuendos, partner with race-hustling charlatans, and generally manufacture controversy just to promote their radical left-wing ideology.

John Tedesco' s whole life is a lie

John Tedesco loves to tell his life story.  Much of it is fabricated.  All of it is self-congratulatory; his now-familiar narratives are all but log-cabin narratives.  But much of what he says about himself is not true.  His business accomplishments were nil.  His education is second-rate.  And now he has a fake job; in essence, rich conservatives pay him to serve on the school board, even though he has made a big pretense of not taking their help.  The organization of which he is "executive director" only exists in fantasy.  His devotion is to the myth of his greatness.     

Ahhhh, that's not very nice...

Your post is just another example of demonizing someone based on misinformation or personal bias.  Seriously - his accomplishments are well noted, read much?  Your ridiculious... Moving on...


I hope Brannon was at least wearing shoes when she conjured this up. She didn't have any on at the LWV Candidate Forum.

Maybe there needs to be a

Maybe there needs to be a "Stinky Feet Campaign Tour."

Really Allison!

You are Ron Margiotta's Campaign Manager and that is the best you can come up with?  So because Yvonne Brannon took off her sandals at a forum while opening the door for people, she is obviously a horrible person, so ignore facts she brings up.  Way to raise the level of discourse.  Typical. 

Now you can go ahead and call me a liar again. 

Whaler a Liar?

Whaler a Liar? Keeping with the theme of the post, If the shoe fits, wear it!

But I guess with your profession telling falsehoods is not lying and is considered part of the job.


I don't have to call you a liar.

My comment about Brannon was an observation. IMO, it was very inappropriate for someone whose group was hosting a candidate forum to walk around without shoes. That's all.

I'm glad to see Brannon at least pretended to be nonpartisan until the forums were over. Back to business as usual for her.

Speaking of lying. You mean

Speaking of lying. You mean like what Brannon is doing when she makes baseless claims that school system staff is not saving the money they say they are?

Outright LIES

WOW - That stuff she smoked in the 60's clearly has lingering effects. It wasn't even like she tried to be close to accurate and misleading - she just blatantly made up stuff.

How is it a waste for the renovations put to Longview now that it is going to be used by 3 times as many students? It is a better use of facilities. If you like the program or not (leadership, single gender, ROTC) is not the question from her statement. It is about a building that is now going to be better utilized.

The $2,175,000 on transportation for the new plan is also false. First the only reason there is potential for any added cost is because we are overlapping two plans (grandfathering in everyone) for stability and a smoother conversion. Now what Transportation said was that it could range from 5-25 buses depending on how people choose. She took the 25 buses and multiplied it by the $87k per new bus to come up with this number for year one. What she did not tell you was that they also stated that, while it would most likely be 10-15 buses, for the first 18 months we would get them for free through the State's loaner program. AND that we actually already have more than enough buses in surplus but would need to use some from the loaners to meet the State requirement of 10% additional buses per fleet. On top of that, what they Transportation director highlighted was that with the adjustments in nodes and operations over the last two years we have already saved $7.3 million in our Transportation budget alone most of which will be annual savings be annualized.

As for the Cary office consolidating 5 admin locations; even if we only received half of the projected sale value in this market for the Wake Forrest Rd site we are still slightly ahead of break even (there was no waste). Operational costs, repairs and more drove those other sites up. Added value for the community is that it puts those properties back on the public tax-rolls.

The H-6 site number was just make believe from jump street, even the post highlights the administration denouncing that. That site was climbing to millions more in additional expenses over initial projects with the extensive rock clearing that needed done, and projected to add an additional $6 million more with sewer and road infrastructure needs. Plus, the site we did select was cheaper to build on cheaper to purchase, and quicker to develop. For more details on where her magic numbers came from you can see here http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/new-board-questioning-cost-estimates-for-abandoning-forest-ridge  - $10 million for potential mobiles on site - never happened; $4 million for projected increases in construction with inflation - the reverse happened bids came in cheaper in this economy adding to the $99 million saved in the current bond dollars and being used for new projects; the $1.5 million in re-design & the re-designs were less than a third of that and produced more than a couple million in added savings as it was designed on a flat site that did not need to staggered and with a tighter footprint.

Millions in potential lost magnet money and DSSF dollars? Wow, it is almost like she doesn't even pay attention. Ok first, we have no federal magnet money. For those confused on this - let me help. Magnet dollars from the US Dept of Ed. are for start up 3 years only then fade and leave the district on the hook - currently on the hook for about $17 million for these programs out of local dollars. Of our 34 magnet programs only a couple of schools were even eligible in the last round of applications last year.

ALL new NC magnet applications were denied as the State received RTTT dollars. Some feel these are valuable programs worth paying for out of our local dollars and thus we keep them and invest in them locally. Just like I felt it was a valuable investment for our 10 new themed academies in STEM and Global Initiatives and our new Renaissance Schools.  As for DSSF from the state - we signed the waiver and were deemed in compliance. The ability for us to lose these dollars from lack of compliance do to segregation is about impossible as we are one of the most diverse systems in the STATE - they would have to first set a measurment tool and then about 110 LEAs would lose it before we would by almost any measure. You are going to say we are less diverse than Halifax? The only way we lose this money is if the state cuts that line item for all.

Come on, agree or disagree on the diversity policy - that's fair. Agree or disagree on our initial process management - also fair. But this is just ridiculous. Most people see these tactics, like when Commissioner Norwalk said we would lose thousands of teachers - I said no, and we actually hired more and gave them all a small bonus (nothing near what they are worth). This past two years our teachers made out better than almost every other large district in the state under our leadership.  


Who's the liar? Methinks JT

WOW JT. This is an incredibly inappropriate post given that you’re an active board member.  You sound a bit like Woodstock. Is he your dad?  There is mucho to dispute in your extensive post, but I don’t have the energy to tackle all of it, so will just go with Longview.  There was a really great LTE on it on Wednesday too. I encourage anyone who has not seen the site to actually go there and see the location. It is very small (surrounded by single family homes) and there is NO room to quadruple the size.  Longview underwent extensive renovations (done in 2008) to create the site for its purpose of serving very high needs students in a small school/class size environment.  It has a capacity of 102 students (see WCPSS capacity report) and an average class size of 7 – not built for your typical class sizes!  The idea of jamming 400-500 students in there is ludicrous, idiotic, etc.  Everything about the school will need to be enlarged = classes (from holding 7 to what? Guilford size of 10 would be nice, but I doubt that’s what you’re thinking JT).  Quadrupling the size of the site is impossible. There is almost no empty space around the school.  Right now the only outdoor activity space is one basketball court. Is that enough for 400-500 6-12th grade males?  I don’t think so.  Whoever passed this idea really didn’t think it through.  Nor did they inform any of the surrounding community.  Why are there so many meeting for the community about Hilburn and none about Longview (see board speech about this)?  JT – you and the other members who voted for this should be ashamed.  The fact that you’re saying it’s not a HUGE WASTE of money to now completely REDO all of the just done renovations makes me think you’re completely out of touch with reality. And I’m not even going into how the whole single-sex academy idea was totally jammed through with NO community input. So typical.

elected official here?

I am really hoping this isn't John Tedesco, elected official, writing here... your unprofessionalism and immaturity is outrageous. Don't you understand that you are a role model for children?


It is not prudent of you to imply anyone is smoking anything.  That is up there with 'Prom Queen'.

As well, I would be careful of throwing the 'just made up' charge around.  "Come on, agree or disagree' on how you interpret those numbers, and fine to make you point, but implying someone is stoned, and makes things up is beneath you.

The Same Sex academies may be the best idea ever, but you guys went from an idea to spending millions in two weeks withoug any evidence of what works, nor if there is a demand.  I thought that is 'Liberals' that did that.

What is really sad is how proud you are of a new policy on how to lay off teachers rather than being proud of fighting for the resources needed to prevent laying off teachers.   My biggest disappointment in you was not standing up and fighting for needed resourses during the budget debate.  You could have really been a leader than rather than another ambitious politician. 

Just sayin'.

Perry - put down the partisan hack pretense

If you are not this ridiculous as this claim she has made. I am not proud of any policy to lay off teachers - I am proud of an opportunity to stop demoralizing good teachers, and as Dr. Morrison said at the meeting as well, demoralizing good principals when they are stuck with bad teachers; an opportunity to ensure we keep our best teachers in front of our students. She and the rest of the board joined me in making this policy change. Nothing demoralizes a good teacher more than when she/he is breaking their back end to challenge our most gifted and raise our most vulnerable and in the classroom next door sits a poor teacher.

Since you threw out the term "liberal" - what is it with your kind Perry that assumes there are no bad teachers. First, I stand by my statements that teachers are a national treasure, and should be treated as such. There are many many many amazing teachers who work tirelessly for kids, but there are also some bad ones who bring down the good ones.  

As for my implying that your buddy smoked something, that would be about as hard of an implication to make as one who would claim you and I have eaten well just from looking at our large bellies. America needs to get over this incredible politically correct culture we have that is afraid to stand for anything for concern they offend anyone. I did not run to be Mother Theresa or a proper polished statesman. If I was in this for a political agenda I would go to charm school. I told people (will show you the news articles if you like) that I would fight and fight for our children, families and tax-payers. I did not say I would roll over and play patty-cake until we all found the magic land of consensus.  I said I would fight, as I have for math placement, suspensions, parental choice, program equity, Renaissance schools, and more.

As for you being disappointed in me for not pressuring the Commissioners to raise taxes on a struggling community after we had several meetings and they showed us their budget, I feel it is less than gunuine on your part. Three years ago the first round of recession cuts came - the old board dealt with $35 million in lost revenue and the solution was to cut hundreds and hundreds of teachers. Over the last two years since I have been on the board we have dealt with a loss of nearly $100 million in lost revenue, and the new result was we added teachers and gave a small bonus. Why? Because we did the hard work and sought our waste and inefficiencies. More money is not the answer to every problem.

We did not go and make a political stunt statement and wedge our future relationship with commissioners only to then fire hundreds of teachers anyway like our predecesors. We said fine, we will work with you and you work with us to look at how we do business - you take over our risk management and some legal services and we will take over some early start initiatives and others. We said, we will look to renegotiate our practices and expenses and more. Even with $100 million in lost revenue the result was a board that not only protected teachers, but expanded programs and resources and will have much more credibility should we need to ask next year. So while I am actually doing the hard work of helping kids, protecting teachers, supporting families, and you are milking thousands from candidates as a self proclaimed political hack, you cut the crap about the leader I could have been.




My apologies for the delay in response.  You can imagine I have been quite busy.

You posted on your facebook page how 'Proud' you were of this policy change, and then the next day Susan Bryant was touting how proud the GOP was of the new RIF policy right before an election.  I do not know who "my kind' are, but I do believe there are bad teachers, and the policy itself I'm okay with.  My point was the holding it up as something to be proud of appears you and the GOP can't wait to RIF teachers.

If anyone tried to discount anything you had to offer because of your weight, or appearance, I would equally condemn that, and in fact have on air at WPTF.  You are not Charles Barkley.  Particularly as a member of the Board of Education, 'YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL.'  Your use of intemperate language matters.  You do not have to be 'Mother Theresa', but a grown would be appropriate.  Accusing opponents of being stoned does not qualify.

As to Yevonne, she wears peace signs because she was a product of that time, and lost a number of friends in an ill advised conflict.   For the record, as a result of her childhood with an guardian with drinking issues, she never 'smoked' then or anytime.  Considering your own family, I thought you may understand how insensitive that really is.

The slow blade penetrates the shield my friend.  You are not 'fighting', you are running, and are ever bit the political hack I am, I just admit it.  When we met you said you knew change was going to cost and promised that you would stand up for the resources need, and since you have credibility with conservatives, you could deliver.  At a critical time, even when Superintendent Tata called legislative cuts draconian, you could have stood up to Skip Stam, and said to maintain the temporary sales tax.   Instead you went to Tea Party events across the state to rally the troops.  That is not 'doing the hard work of helping kids.'

You have some good ideas John, and often I have and will continue to defend you, but no need to keep blowing smoke up my backside.  I would be careful of accusing anyone of 'milking' clients considering your salary is now paid essentially by political donors.  I am upfront about who I am, and my clients appreciate the efforts I give them because they know my intentions are far more about my heart than my wallet.  You yet again demonstrate immaturity by implying anyone does not care as much or have as pure intentions as you.

I'm sure we both will be relieved after next week passes.  Perhaps then we can see past each others rhetoric and look for ways to move forward together rather than 'fight', because in the end, 'fighting' is putting our interests above those of our children and our community.



I have and will continue to

I have and will continue to defend you
How exactly does your participation in the trashy Robert Greenwald video and support the for the lies being spewed by your radical left-wing candidates align with your ongoing defense of John Tedesco? What am I missing?

Just a note

Unlike Perry or yourself, I'm just a voter in Wake County with a child in the system.   While more money is not the answer to every problem, it sure doens't help when the teachers and principals who remain are making do with less -- less money, less assistants, less janitorial staff, lack of textbooks -- just less across the board.   And to a fair extent, it is the parents who are trying to fill the gaps left by less money and resources in the system. 

Now you and Perry can go back to your campaign pissing match.   

It is not very difficult to

It is not very difficult to conjure up an image of Brannon driving around in a VW Beetle with a roach-clip dangling from a string of beads hanging around her rearview mirror during the late 60s and early 70s. If I were making a documentary entitled "Hippies, where are they now?" she'd be my initial point of contact. That is not even necessarily a criticism, but you'd have to be blind not to recognize that she actively presents that image.

Pretty sure "stinky feet"

Pretty sure "stinky feet" has been smoking something... Wondering if you drink her "herbal" infused koolaid too.  Anyone who walks around wearing peace signs, barefoot, glazed eyes smelling of patchuoli oil is trying to make a statement.

There have been no teacher layoffs.  Over the past two years not only did teachers keep their jobs but received a bonus regardless of Obamonomics.  The board majority is dedicated to their teachers, students, and parents.  That's why they were elected and more likeminded individuals will soon join the board. There is no policy that states layoffs regardless of how you interpret it.  It's just another way you throw up more smoke and mirrors.  Geeze, desperate much?

As for John not being a leader... now you're really grasping at straws.  You might not like the way he tackles an issue head on, or feel "comfortable" with the "he calls it like he sees it" attitude, but the majority of us do.  We know where he stands on issues and he gets positive results: suspicion rates down, no teacher layoffs, millions saved, math placement policy, and the list goes on.   I respect the fact he doesn't hide behind 527's, skunk suits, and  lies.

Just Sayin'   

Hold on...

This is the same woman who wanders around with a peace sign around her neck, and you're offended by allusions to her being a hippie?  Why is it ok to criticize the conservatives as "tea party extremists," but not ok to criticize the liberals as leftover flower children from the 60's?  

I don't know for a fact that she actually smoked anything during the '60s (or, maybe if she did, she didn't inhale), but she certainly killed some brain cells someplace along the way -- this preposterous claim of hers is a fine example.

Worthless posts on this site by the usual suspects

This site is not being monitored well enough. We don't need to read this trash talking and outrageous name-calling by the usual suspects who seem to spend their entire lives spewing without censor on this site. Don't you have jobs?

If you can't be respectful of others ( Yvonne Brannon, among many others ), then please keep your comments to yourself. That includes you, Mr. Tedesco. Your comments are completely inappropriate. Mr. Hui needs to step up to the plate and silence this kind of irresponsible spewing. 


Well, there's the pot calling the kettle black.

Who the hell are you to put

Who the hell are you to put demands on anyone?

You need to watch the you talk, Woodstock!

You need to be more respectful, Woodstock. No one wants to hear ugly irresponsible rants. Go somewhere else and do it.

Oh, okay. LOL I was looking

Oh, okay. LOL I was looking for someone to tell me what I "need" to do.

Why are you on here so much?

Why are you on here so much? All I see your comments over and over again.

Why?"Theirs is not to


"Theirs is not to reason why, theirs but to do and die. "

- Alfred Lord Tennyson -


There real reason I am here is because, of course, I get a buckets full of cash to do it from Art Pope, Bob Luddy and the Koch Bros. If you want to sweeten the pot or work out a new arrangement, make an offer. Until then, I will persist. Have a nice day.

You are abusing this site.

You are abusing this site.

I am rubber, you are glue;

I am rubber, you are glue; whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.

Are you Paul Stam or Allison

Are you Paul Stam or Allison Backhouse?

Oh, I see you are Alison

Oh, I see you are Alison Backhouse, Margiotta's campaign manager. No wonder you are doing nothing other than  smothering this blog with your partisan comments over and over.  While the rest of us are earning a living, you are using this public forum to promote Margiotta. That's not what this blog is meant for, is it, Mr. Hui? 




How did I get dragged into this?

(And spell my name correctly. 2 l's please.)

That's An Understatement...

Brannon's charges are obviously speculative!  No kidding...this woman is off her rocker!

Yvonne has spent the past

Yvonne has spent the past two years being "shocked," nothing new here.  For somebody who wears a peace sign around her neck, she sure seems like an angry person.

That's hilarious.

That's hilarious.

Cars View All
Find a Car
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Homes View All
Find a Home

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of newsobserver.com. Click here to register or to log in.

About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.