RALEIGH — A divided Wake County school board voted 5-4 Tuesday to scrap the proposed Forest Ridge High School in northeast Raleigh even though the staff warned switching to a new site in Rolesville could cost $15.4million.
Members of the new school board majority questioned the dollar estimate while saying that they have to think about more than cost when the site will have such a negative effect on residents. Members also said they needed to carry out the pledge they had made during last fall's election campaign to drop the site.
Forest Ridge High would have been on Forestville Road near U.S.401.
"The site was wrong," said school board member Chris Malone, whose district includes the Forest Ridge High site. "The traffic was wrong, The way it was handled was wrong. It was a boondoggle."
Members of the board minority acknowledged that the Forest Ridge site isn't ideal. But they said they have to weigh the cost of spending $15.4 million during this poor economy.
"When we can't afford textbooks and teacher assistants and are making budget cuts, $15 million is an awful lot of money," school board member Anne McLaurin said.
The board voted 5-3 to ask Knightdale, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest and Wake County to pay a total of $7million to offset the additional costs. They also directed the staff to look at two sites proposed by Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles. One site is on U.S. 401 near Louisbury Road, and the other site is near Rolesville and Quarry roads.
School administrators said that switching sites means a two-year delay, estimating a 2014 school opening. The $15.4 million in extra costs would come from purchasing and locating additional classroom trailers to deal with overcrowding caused by delaying the school by two years.
Neighbors of Forest Ridge cited traffic concerns in opposing the school site. Some also raised concerns about a possible slave cemetery on the property.
The vote to abandon Forest Ridge was approved by Malone, Ron Margiotta, Debra Goldman, John Tedesco and Deborah Prickett. It was opposed by McLaurin, Kevin Hill, Keith Sutton and Carolyn Morrison.
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