Though a final decision came right down to the wire – and in today’s General Assembly, things could still change – it appears that the House of Representatives reached the same conclusion that many in the general public reached long ago.
Wake County’s desire to maintain control over school construction was largely just an ill-advised power grab.
On Wednesday, the House, with support from both Democrats and Republicans, voted down a bill that would have given Wake County the responsibility of building new schools and maintaining existing facilities.
The school board shouted from the moment the idea was floated that they – not the county commissioners – knew better how to build good, efficient schools and how to prioritize repairs, renovations and expansions for existing facilities.
The House of Representatives’ rare moment of bipartisanship produced the best decision for everyone involved.
School business needs to remain under the purview of the board of education. Like county commissioners, school board members are elected and held to the same level of public scrutiny that county commissioners are.
Arguments that the move was never a political one don’t wash in light of the fact that such an effort was never mounted when Republicans held the majority on both the county commission and the board of education.
There will remain a number of checks and balances that will allow the county some latitude in influencing decisions by the school board. Primarily, that ability will come through the power of the purse.
County commissioners will continue to hold the purse strings when it comes time to buy land or pay for a new building. That, in effect, gives county commissioners a veto over any decisions the school board makes.
That’s enough authority, in our opinion.
And we’re glad the House of Representatives sees it that way, too.