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School bond dispute all about who's in control

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The Wake County Republican Party will oppose bonds for the Wake County schools and the transportation bond for the city of Raleigh, the GOP announced Wednesday morning.

The Wake County school system is pushing bonds to build new schools in the burgeoning system.

The Republicans, in a news release, said, "It is not the buildings we need as much as more oversight of land purchases, better and less expensive school construction, and better use of existing facilities.  The Wake County School Board must do a far better job of providing maximum value and better stewardship of our school children's money."

The Republicans had controlled the Wake school board by a 5-4 majority until the election of 2011 put Democrats back in charge. The Democrats fired Superintendent Tony Tata last fall and ultimately replaced him with Jim Merrill, who was sworn in Aug. 6.

Jim Martin, a Democrat on the school board, replied in a statement to WNCN late Wednesday, saying in part, "It is sad when schools and kids are used as a pawn for partisan politics.  I believe if you look at the process for addressing the needs in this proposed bond it was very data driven, and was bipartisan by members of the Board of Ed."

Merrill said one of his top priorities is seeing that the county approves an $810 million school bond this fall. Advocates say the hike in property taxes would add about $12 a month to the average homeowner's tax bill.

The school system has about 150,000 students and expects to add another 20,000 by 2018.

The Republican Party on Wednesday accused the board of "lack of transparency and accountability" and said the decisions by the Democratic majority have "led to a profound loss of confidence in their actions and their ability to make good decisions for our children."

The GOP said it voted "by the narrowest of margins" to oppose the school bonds.

On the city transportation bond, the GOP said some projects were "very credible" but expressed concern about the city's "continued accumulation of debt."

"Therefore, by an overwhelming majority, the Wake GOP Executive Committee voted to oppose the City of Raleigh Transportation Bonds," the news release said.

Link to information on Wake schools bond

 

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