Wake County school board member Jim Martin flexed some of his political muscle at Tuesday's school board meeting.
As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, Martin got the board to amend the plan to reallocate $130 million in unused bond money to cover the cost of design work for renovations to Athens Drive High's stadium. Staff is projecting they'll have $500,000 left over, which Martin noted would cover the design costs for the stadium.
The design work would jump start the renovation project. The actual funding for the $7.4 million in renovation work would come from the next bond issue.
The amendment came after Athens Drive parents stayed through the long closed session to lobby for the project. Administrators, students and parents are asking for a field house, better lighting, a paved parking lot and other improvements that would make the site accessible to people with disabilities.
“We've been waiting,” Athens Drive parent Alan Keith said to board members. “We certainly ask that our facility be considered prior to any new athletic facilities.”
Other parents distributed thick packets to board members, with large color photographs illustrating the differences between Athens Drive’s antiquated sportsplex and the much larger and better equipped stadiums at schools like Panther Creek High.
When it came time to vote on the $130 million package, Martin introduced his amendment. Athens Drive is one of the school's represented by Martin. The vote came around 10:30 p.m.
The amendment drew objections from Republican school board member Deborah Goldman, who said that Martin hadn't brought it up when they discussed the spending plan during the work session. She said it "was not appropriate" to bring up the amendment at this late date.
"As much as I do believe that we need to look at the Athens Drive stadium, I believe there are other schools in dire need as well," Goldman said. "“That's really, literally an eleventh-hour change without the board having the benefit of any staff recommendation or information or detailed plans or anything else."
The ensuing 5-4 vote on the amendment was along party lines. Martin and the other Democrats all voted yes. The Republicans voted no.
When it came to voting on the whole package, the vote was 8-1 with only Goldman dissenting. Considering how the plan covers a variety of other projects, defeating the package would have had major repercussions.