Wake Ed

Wake County school committee to discuss timing of bond referendum

A workman applies a waterproofing material to the walls at the new Oakview Elementary School on December 8, 2015 in Holly Springs, N.C. A Wake County school board committee will discuss Wednesday the timing for the next school construction bond referendum.
A workman applies a waterproofing material to the walls at the new Oakview Elementary School on December 8, 2015 in Holly Springs, N.C. A Wake County school board committee will discuss Wednesday the timing for the next school construction bond referendum. cliddy@newsobserver.com

The timing of the next Wake County school construction bond referendum and which school renovations should get top priority will be a major part of Wednesday’s school board facilities committee meeting.

The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting includes a county staff presentation on having a school bond referendum on the November 2016 ballot or waiting until the May 2018 ballot. The timing comes as school district staff have identified $1.4 billion in needs through 2020.

Under one scenario, the Wake County Board of Commissioners could put a $852 million school bond referendum on this fall’s ballot with the next referendum scheduled for 2020. A second scenario has commissioners borrowing money, without voter approval, to tide the school district until a bond referendum is put on the May 2018 ballot.

With commissioners expected to put a referendum on the November ballot to raise sales taxes to pay for the transit plan, they’ll have to decide whether having a school referendum on the same ballot would be a help or a hindrance.

But if the commissioners nix a 2016 school bond referendum, state law would prevent the next one from being held until May 2018 when all the polling places would next be open on Election Day.

If the decision is made to go for a 2016 bond, the school board would have to make the formal request by June.

Also on the agenda is a discussion of how to prioritize the major school renovation projects and partial renovation projects. Wake would not likely be able to fund all of them at once so it’s important which schools rank at the top of the priority list to get into the next building program.

The third agenda topic Wednesday is whether use of the Performance Contracting process could lead to energy savings at several Wake schools.

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