Schools, County Agree to 7-year School Building Plan

A new era of school construction planning is here.

The Wake County Board of Education and the Wake County Board of Commissioners have agreed, after a year of intense collaboration, to a 7-year school construction plan that will keep school construction moving along without a bond referendum until 2018. Both boards approved the plan to build 14 new schools and renovate 11 others between 2017 and 2023.

The first two years of the plan will be paid for with debt that the county can issue within its borrowing cap without asking voters for new taxes. The county government is very fortunate to have a triple-A bond rating, which means the county gets the best possible interest rates.

Members of both elected boards were very complimentary of the process and capital improvement plan.

“I think it’s exciting that we are now at a 7-year plan where we know where the funding is coming from for the next two years,” Commissioner John Burns said “We know what projects are on the horizon in years three through seven. This is a new way of addressing our school construction needs, and a new way of collaborating.”

A day after the commissioners unanimously approved the capital plan, school board members expressed their gratitude as well.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that we’re moving to the 7-year rolling budget,” Board Member Jim Martin said. “I am so pleased that our staff and county staff have worked together on this 7-year rolling plan. Not only does this need to happen for our capital planning, but it needs to happen to our operational planning.”

Although the capital improvement plan was approved by both boards, it’s not complete. It is a living document that will allow for changes based on facilities needs and funds availability. The plan now is to use what are called limited-obligation bonds to pay for an estimated $127 million in construction projects next year.

In May 2018, the voters may be asked to approve another school construction bond that will fund later years of the plan. That will be five years after the last local bond. The bond referendum that voters approved in the primary election this past March was for statewide school construction at colleges and universities.

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