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Voters approve bonds for Wake schools building plan

November 7, 2018

Wake County voters on Tuesday night approved selling $548 million in general obligation bonds to help school construction keep up with student population growth.

With all precincts reporting, the bond passed with 67 percent of the votes in favor.

“I think that the community knows that we need schools. I think the county commissioners and the board, our board, together really worked to talk through what a seven-year plan looks like, what it means to the growth of our county to build new schools and that commitment shows up today from our voters,” Wake County school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler said.

The money will help build five elementary schools, a middle school in Fuquay-Varina, a high school in southwest Wake County and and renovate 11 others. Funds from the bonds will also to go toward buying land for future schools and upgrading security and classroom technology.

Paying off the bonds will add about $46 to the annual tax bill of a $200,000 home.

Supporters have insisted the bonds are the responsible way to pay for schools that are necessary as Wake County Public School System administrators struggle to keep up with the rapidly growing student population.

Opponents said the bonds would place a long-term burden on future Wake County residents and claimed the district needs to be smarter about spending the money it already has.

Several incumbents were easily re-elected in the race for Wake County school board.

With all precincts reporting, the fight for the District 1 seat vacated when incumbent Don Agee decided not to seek re-election was close.

Heather Scott won with 39 percent of the vote, while Donald Mial took 33 percent. Opponent Jim Thompson garnered the remaining 27 percent.

In District 3 race, incumbent Roxie Cash was re-elected with 54 percent of the vote over Shaun Pollenz, who had 45 percent.

Cash campaigned on the promises of planning for student growth and ensuring schools have all the necessary tools to meet growing student needs. Pollenz said he hoped to end the student achievement gap and focus on school growth by renovating schools with immediate problems.

In District 5, board Vice Chairman Jim Martin won re-election over Logan Martin, with 69 percent of the vote.

Jim Martin’s campaign focused on attracting and retaining teachers as well as developing strategies to prevent high-poverty, low-achieving schools. Logan Martin said he hoped to address school safety and student access to mental health resources.

In District 8, incumbent Lindsay Mahaffey was also re-elected, with 61 percent of the vote to Bob Melone’s 33 percent and John Crowe’s 5 percent.

Mahaffey, who has worked as a teacher, said she hoped to create new schools and renovate existing buildings as student population grows as well as offer competitive pay for teachers. Melone, who has a Ph.D. in education and served as a superintendent in New York, said he hoped to provide greater support to teachers and increase parent and community involvement.

Jonson-Hostler, who represents District 2, Keith Sutton, who represents District 4, Christine Kushner, who represents District 6, and Bill Fletcher, who represents District 9, all ran unopposed.

Kathy Hartenstine, the District 7 representative, died suddenly in September, but her name remained on the ballot and was unopposed. Board members will appoint someone to fill her vacant seat at a later date.

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