Wake County schools’ multi-billion-dollar real estate portfolio will remain under the control of Wake County school board, barring renewed reconsideration of a bill that would have given control to the county commission. It failed to pass the House Wednesday afternoon, on a 54-62 vote.
Rep. Paul Stam, the House majority leader, and other Republicans had argued that the measure would have increased voters’ willingness to support a bond issue referendum planned for the Oct. 8 ballot. “For that bond to pass there has to be confidence that the money will be used wisely,” Stam said.
Democrats argued that the change was unnecessary and would inject commissioners’ political views into the school construction process. “I think it’s the right thing,” said Wake County school board chair Keith Sutton after the vote. “I’m hoping we can put this behind us and focus on the bond.”
Rep. Chris Malone, a Wake Republican and a former member of the Wake school board, argued in favor of the bill as not only sound business practice, but also as a policy tool. Malone cited what he said were “political” reason for supporting the bill, noting that it could be used to block efforts by the school board to enforce diversity through busing. “I don’t want to go back to the days where we see hour-and-a-half long bus rides,” Malone said. Read more here.