Wake County voters will have the opportunity to consider an $810 million school bond referendum this fall.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to put the referendum on the Oct. 8 municipal ballot. A 5.53 cent property tax increase is associated with the funding.
If the bond is approved by voters, it will help make room for the about 20,000 new students expected in Wake County Public Schools by 2018.
More than half of the funding will go toward new school construction. Another 26 percent will be used for six major school renovations, with the remainder allocated for equipment upgrades and increases in technology and security.
Shall the order adopted on July 15, 2013 authorizing not exceeding $810,000,000 SCHOOL BONDS, plus interest, of the County of Wake, North Carolina, for the purpose of providing funds, together with any other available funds, for constructing, expanding and renovating school buildings and other school facilities in said County, and the acquisition of related land, rights of way and equipment, and providing that additional taxes may be levied in an amount sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds be approved?
Keith Sutton, chairman of the Wake County Board of Education, was present at the public hearing to voice hearing the board’s unanimous support for the approval of the referendum.
Including Sutton, seven people spoke in favor of the bond. No one spoke against it.
The speakers included the three co-chairs of Friends of Wake County, a group organized to champion the bond’s passage.
One of the co-chairs, Billie Redmond, spoke of the county’s reputation for quality public schools as her reason for supporting the referendum.
“Wake County enjoys such a strong reputation as one of the smartest and best places to live in the country,” said Redmond, who ran for Raleigh mayor in 2011. “And we know that schools play a vital role in that reputation, and a strong public school system is a big selling point to attracting jobs and talent to Wake County.”
Virginia Tally, a retired Wake County Public Schools teacher, emphasized the need to prepare students to compete in today’s global economy.
“We must prepare each facility to align with new technologies and opportunities for innovation,” she said. “[This will] allow our children equitable access alongside their counterparts in other states and globally.”
The Rev. Marion Robinson, co-chair of Friends of Wake County and pastor of St. Matthews AME Church, discussed the financial benefits of the school bond referendum to both students and taxpayers.
“Voter-approved bonds are the least expensive and fairest way to pay for the new facilities we need because they carry the lowest interest rate,” he said. “This prudent approach will help us stay even with growth as we emerge from difficult economic times.”