It looks like you can add the Forest Ridge High site to the list of battles that will divide new and old school board members starting in December.
As noted in today's article, the current board members, with the exception of Ron Margiotta, told staff to go ahead with plans for using the Forest Ridge High site. But Chris Malone said Wake should be prepared for a change in that plan when he and other new board members take office.
"They should have stopped today," Malone said. "We're going to push ahead and make them stop it."
Malone said it seems as if the board hasn't accepted last week's election results and how the new members were critics of the Forest Ridge site.
But school board member Patti Head said they have to continue to make the decisions they feel are in the best interests of the school system.
"We’ve done what we thought is right," Head said after Tuesday's facilities committee meeting. "They’ll have to make their own decisions."
The message from staff on Tuesday was that switching to an alternative site would lead to a delay that would push the opening of the school back from 2012 to 2014.
Asst. Supt. Chuck Dulaney presented this handout showing how a two-year delay would severely crowd area high schools. He said they'd have to keep the ninth-grade centers for Wakefield and Wake Forest-Rolesville high schools through at least 2014 and either add modulars or create a separate ninth-grade center for Knightdale High.
"That two-year delay would kill us," said school board chairman Kevin Hill.
In addition, Dulaney said having to continue using the ninth-grade centers for WFRHS and Wakefield to 2014 would prevent Wake from early starting a middle school or elementary school to ease crowding there.
Staff will report back with a dollar estimate of how much more it might cost by delaying until 2014, from construction costs to coming up with dealing with short-term crowding.
School board member Lori Millberg said delaying the new high school by two years will negatively impact students. She says she's already hearing from parents who say that the reassignment plan should be revised to send their children to Heritage High if Forest Ridge is delayed more.
“We’re going to have a real human cost in addition to the dollars," Millberg said
Board member Horace Tart asked about the possibility of rushing the opening of Rolesville Middle School so that it could be used to house 9th- and 10th-graders. (That's an idea backed by Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles as a way to buy more time while looking at other sites.)
But Millberg said they "desperately needed" Rolesville Middle to be used as a middle school.
Margiotta asked if they could stop spending any additional money on Forest Ridge while staff looks at other sites, including the new one proposed by Eagles. But Don Haydon, chief facilities and operations officer, said they're working on such a tight timeframe that even a two-week delay would push it a year past the 2012 opening.
Staff tried to downplay the complaints from critics about the $7.5 million in unbudgeted road, water and sewer improvements. Asst. Supt. Joe Desormeaux presented this handout which he said showed that only $3.3 million of that cost wasn't known to county commissioners when the project was presented to them in October 2008.
Desormeaux also tried to downplay concerns about how they'd pay for the improvements by presenting this handout. While it shows that off-site improvements are expected to come in $8.1 million over budget, there's also $32 million in projected savings from construction projects coming in under bid.