Joe Bryan, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, has got some definite plans in mind should the state House also sign off on the bill letting them take over school construction from the school board.
Senate Bill 236 would give commissioners in nine counties the ability to oversee all facets of school construction, including locating, purchasing, owning, building, maintaining and renovating schools. Bryan said it's his intention to press for the county to assume the majority of the construction responsibilities from the Wake County school system.
Bryan said he'd like to see how they can merge the county and school system's construction departments. The county would need more than its current staff to oversee the $1.8 billion in school property and handle projects from future bond issues.
Bryan said he'd also like to transfer ownership of all existing schools to the county. He said that since the commissioners now legally have to treat the properties as liabilities that they should also be able to include them on the books as assets.
But Bryan said he'd like to leave day-to-day maintenance with the school system with the understanding that the school board would have to use all the maintenance money it's given. Commissioners have accused school boards over the years of transferring money from maintenance to cover other parts of the operating budget.
Under the new bill, it would be up to the commissioners in the nine counties to decide whatever level of authority they want to leave with the school systems on construction issues.