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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bad news for Raleigh's school capacity

Posted by on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 10:48 AM

On Monday, Wake County commissioners voted to kill a proposal that would have created badly needed school capacity near downtown Raleigh.

The commissioners considered buying the former YWCA building on East Hargett Street to convert into a school. It would have been a win for Raleigh considering city councilors are seeking to increase density in downtown, even though there are few plots of land left in the city's core where new schools can be built.

Here's a partial account of Monday's commissioner's meeting from the WakeEd blog.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners had agreed Nov. 19 to purchase the property, but title problems were later discovered with one of the three tracts in the deal. The school system asked commissioners to approve today this amended deal allowing it to split up the purchase into two parts.
But in a departure from the 4-3 vote in November, the commissioners unanimously voted today for Commissioner Tony Gurley's motion to reject the new request and to declare the prior approval dead.

...

School staff said that the seller, the bankruptcy agent for the YWCA, was balking at delaying the deal. The school district's proposal was to ask commissioners for a new deal to pay $850,000 so that the first two tracts could be closed with the remaining $150,000 to come when the title issues with the third tract were resolved.

Commissioners will be able to take up the proposal again, and may be willing to move it forward, if the title problems are sorted out.

If the proposal doesn't move forward it's a bad deal for downtown Raleigh which is already playing catch up on school capacity.

Here's an excerpt from a piece I wrote at the Raleigh Public Record in April, Raleigh's disparity in growth and school building.

Raleigh’s school-aged population grew in total numbers by more than three times as much as the next closest municipality, Cary. In relation to growth, however, the number of schools built in Raleigh does not seem to line up.

While Raleigh’s school-age population grew in volume by three times more than Cary’s, only two more schools were built in Raleigh than in Cary.

...

Federal Census data show that Raleigh gained more than 35,000 school-aged children between 2000 and 2010. Cary experienced the second biggest jump in numbers, adding more than 10,000 children under the age of 18.

Using an average class size of 27 for K-12, that means Raleigh’s school population grew by 1,320 classrooms. For Cary, growth measured in classrooms would be 372.

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