Wake County schools weigh how to fund more than $1 billion in needs

districtIn March, we wrote about at least one of the major challenges facing North Carolina’s largest public school system, Wake County Public School System, in the coming years, not the least of which being a growing number of schools heavily loaded with low-income children. 

Addressing the problem, which might involve a combination of small-scale reassignments and magnet programs, could be expensive.

But it’s just one of many issues the school system will face in the next four years, it seems.

The News & Observer reported this week that leaders on the county school board are mulling multiple ways to raise an estimated $1.4 billion in needs through 2020.

From the N&O:

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.

Leaders in the state’s second-largest school system, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), are also expected to push for a bond package to alleviate similar problems, including overcrowded schools, aging infrastructure and high concentrations of impoverished students. CMS’ capital needs total an estimated $1.8 billion over the next decade.

We’ll continue to track this bond discussion as it develops.

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