Although a large share of the recently approved Wake County school bond referendum will fund Garner projects, voters at polling stations in Garner did not overwhelmingly support it – falling slightly short of the county average of 57.7 percent.
Voting stations just outside Garner showed even less support.
The vote ultimately approved $810 million in borrowing to help fund nearly $940 million in projects. Though Garner’s support didn’t reflect the fact that more than $180 million will fund new schools and renovations in Garner, it did match a countywide trend. The heaviest support for the bond was centered in Raleigh and Cary, marginal in nearby towns like Garner, and waned severely in rural Wake County.
“I can’t tell you how many people who said they don’t trust the Wake County Schools administration with that kind of money,” said Garner Councilman Gra Singleton.
Singleton said Garner-related assignment issues and school board fireworks in recent years have eroded trust in the school system with voters he’s met. “People just don’t have the confidence in the decision-makers,” Singleton said.
The town council had unanimously endorsed the school bond, as did the Garner Chamber of Commerce. Singleton did object to the new elementary school to be built with bond funds, saying Garner didn’t need it.
The eight polling stations in municipal Garner averaged 56.6 percent approval. Creech Road Elementary, located not far from perhaps the most bond-friendly region of Southeast Raleigh, led the way at 62.3 percent. Bingham Station Clubhouse, Heather Hills Clubhouse and Aversboro Elementary precincts each supported the bond at a 60 percent clip.
But other parts of Garner proved less inclined to approve the borrowing. Voters at Turner Memorial Baptist Church (47.6 percent in favor), Rand Road Elementary School (49.5) and Southeast Regional Library (49.6) sided against the bond. Garner Advent Christian Church voters (53.6) barely approved.
Bonds will fund the complete renovation of Garner Magnet High School, an aspect of the bond Garner heavily supported, Singleton said. Newly elected school board member Monika Johnson-Hostler also said residents stressed the overcrowded and outdated state of the high school.
It will also heavily renovate Vandora Springs Elementary school and build new high and elementary schools near Bryan Road in South Garner.
Just west of Garner, Smith Elementary School posted one of the lowest approvals (44.1). And just south, less than four miles as the crow flies from new proposed elementary and high schools in South Garner, Hollands United Methodist Church (53.1) offered only moderate support.
Countywide, bond funds will build 16 new schools to account for expected growth for about $534 million. Minor renovations for 73 schools will be funded, and six schools will see major renovations totaling roughly $170 million.