The Wake County school board could find out today that it will not get all the local money it wants to operate schools for the coming fiscal year and that it will wait until 2018 for a vote on a school construction bond referendum.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote Monday afternoon on the $1.2 billion budget for the Fiscal Year 2017 that provides $11.8 million less than what the school board requested. The board wants a $35.7 million increase but County Manager Jim Hartmann has recommended a $23.9 million increase.
The budget vote also includes adoption of an ordinance funding the first year of the school district’s $1.98 billion, seven-year capital improvement program. But instead of asking voters to pay for the first large chunk of the program this year, commissioners will issue limited obligation bonds that are expected to provide an additional $127 million in the 2017 Fiscal Year.
The plan is to ask voters in May 2018 to approve a school construction bond referendum. The general-obligation bonds approved in bond referendums come with a lower interest rate and are for larger amounts than limited-obligation bonds.
Commissioners have denied that they’re waiting until 2018 for the school bond referendum to try to protect passage of this November’s referendum to raise sales taxes to pay for the transit plan. Instead, commissioners and their supporters have been talking about how the new seven-year rolling school building program is a historic effort to fund the ongoing capital needs.
Groups like the Great Schools in Wake Coalition have focused their lobbying on getting the commissioners to fully fund the school board’s operating budget request. School leaders have warned that higher fees and cuts to services may be needed if they don’t get the full $35.7 million increase.