Election 2013

In Wake, bond opponents ignore reality

September 27, 2013 

In a democracy, it’s vital that all people be free to express opinions, but there is – or used to be – an idea that people would debate facts, not fictions. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Wake County Taxpayers Association and its opposition to the $810 million school construction bond issue that will be decided Oct. 8.

The association says the school board has manufactured a need for space in the growing school system. Why they would isn’t clear. Ed Jones, chairman of the taxpayers association, suggests it’s because they are spendaholics.

“It seems to us the school board consistently overestimates student needs, growth projections, student achievement and their financial wants to justify new and extravagant spending,” Jones said in a video produced by the group.

Not only are the board’s enrollment projections inflated, the association says, but there are thousands of empty seats in the district.

It’s true that projections that accompanied the 2006 school bond issue overestimated current enrollment by more than 20,000 students. But those who made the projections, like almost everyone else, didn’t foresee the bursting of the housing bubble, the financial crisis and the Great Recession. Now the economy is coming back, and enrollment is once more starting to gallop. The school system, already the state’s largest with 153,000 students, is projected to add as many as 20,000 students in the next five years. There is every reason to expect that growth to continue.

But why not skip the bonds and force the school system to use space it already has? Teaching students is different from filling warehouses. It’s not a question of raw space; it’s a question of appropriate space, safe conditions and proper equipment. That’s why much of the bond revenue goes to renovating poorly functioning buildings.

It’s fine to take a sharp pencil to the school board’s bond request, but the need is clear without fine calculations. County taxes haven’t gone up for five years. It’s time to approve the bonds and preserve the quality of schools that help make Wake County an excellent place to live.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service