WAKE FOREST — In a statement released Wednesday, school board District 1 candidate Don McIntyre issued a clarification about his position on the Wake County school bond referendum. He now says he supports the bond but is wary of allowing the current school board to manage the $810 million.
“Because of broken promises by this board, I am not comfortable putting $810 million in their hands with unchecked authority to decide how to spend it,” McIntyre said in the statement.
In early September, McIntyre said he planned to vote against the bond because he didn’t trust the current board to disperse the money in the best way. He said he wanted to wait until after the election and then take another look at bond options.
Last week, McIntyre said he had already cast his vote about the bond but declined to say which way he voted.
“I know that bond issues are necessary for a rapidly growing area like Wake County but I am reluctant to put that money in the hands of the current school board because they didn’t do what they promised to do on the last one,” McIntyre said.
In 2006, a $970 million bond was passed to prepare the county for an estimated 7,500-a-year increase in enrollment in Wake County. The 2006 bond accounted for the construction of 17 new schools and the repair or maintenance of 13 other schools.
Two of the 17 schools, Apex Friendship High and Richland Creek Elementary, are still under construction. The other 15 have been completed.
McIntyre said there are ongoing repairs at older schools, like East Wake Middle, that need to be prioritized so as not to interrupt the students that already attend school in Wake County.
“There are just constant repairs,” he said. “(Older schools) are such a mess; they need to be bulldozed.”
McIntyre’s opponent, Tom Benton, currently represents District 1 and has said his focus is more on academic programs, but acknowledges the growth in areas like Wake Forest and Rolesville. He questions how well McIntyre could work with the board, if elected. Four of the nine school board districts elect members this year, with balloting on Oct. 8.
“If he is elected how is he going to work with the board to make it better?” Benton said. “The very people he says he doesn’t trust are the people who he has to work with, if elected.”
The bond would pay for construction and renovations for schools in the county and pay for other upgrades for schools. The bond would raise taxes for Wake County residents. According to estimates by the Wake County Public School System, it would cost the average taxpayer about $145 more a year.
Hankerson 919-829-4826 Twitter: @easternwakenews