Wake Ed

May 5, 2014

Wake County Commissioners drop raise in teacher pay from legislative agenda

The Wake County Board of Commissioners is scheduled Monday to adopt a legislative agenda that no longer asks the General Assembly to raise teacher pay but now includes support for a bill that could change how the school system builds and renovates schools.

UPDATE: The legislative agenda was pulled from the meeting agenda. The reason given was that some commissioners hadn’t received it before the meeting.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners doesn’t plan to ask the General Assembly to raise teacher pay and instead is prepared Monday to back a legislative agenda that could force the school system to change how it handles construction projects.

On April 14, county staff had presented a draft legislative agenda that included the commissioners requesting state legislators to raise teacher pay during the short session. That item is no longer on the legislative agenda that the commissioners are scheduled to vote on today.

Some commissioners had questioned whether the county should get involved, saying teacher pay is a state issue. Considering that Republicans make up the majority on both the commissioners and the General Assembly, there may have been reluctance to press legislators on that issue.

One of the items added since the draft agenda is backing a draft bill that would cut back on when public bodies could use construction manager at risk (CMAR) and prequalification of services for construction projects.

In construction manager at risk, a construction firm is hired via a bidding process to oversee design and act as general contractor for the project, including picking all the subcontractors. This is in lieu of the traditional process of having separate bidding process for all the phases of the project.

Last year, contractor Keith Harrod charged that the school system’s use of construction manager at risk was reducing the ability of local companies to get work on projects. Click here for a November article in the Carolina Journal.

Picking up on Harrod’s accusations, some Republican commissioners also began to question the school system’s use of CMAR.

The school system has used CMAR since the 2006 bond issue on projects of $15 million or more. School administrators have defended the practice, saying it’s saved money and along the way increased minority participation on projects.

Administrators had warned school board members that the legislature might try to put restrictions on usage of CMAR.

All this takes place at a time when both boards recently approved an interlocal agreement that’s supposed to have them work closer together on school construction projects.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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