School Construction Bonds & Capital Improvement Plans
Wake County is the second fastest growing county in the United States, adding 64 people per day. Approximately 13 of those new Wake citizens are school age children. This growth means that our school system is constantly adding new students and we must build new schools to accommodate them. It’s also critically important to renovate our older schools so that all students can learn in safe, innovative and collaborative spaces. In 2018, Wake county voters were asked to approve a $548 million bond referendum. Voters approved the bond funds with a wide margin! These funds will help pay for major facility renovations at seven elementary schools, three middle schools and Fuquay-Varina High School. Modern learning technology systems and science labs will be installed in the older schools so they are more comparable to newer schools. It will allow air conditioning and other building systems to be updated. The bond will also help pay for construction of five new elementary schools, one middle school and one new high school, all of which will help accommodate growth and relieve overcrowding at existing schools.
Bonds Are The Smart Way To Pay! General obligation bonds are the least expensive way for taxpayers to pay for new schools and renovations. Wake County is one of only 46 counties in the nation to maintain a coveted AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies, allowing the county to get the lowest-cost rates available. The general obligation bond has the lowest interest rates and will be the best method to pay for renovations and new school construction, saving taxpayers nearly $50 million in interest over the twenty-year life of the bonds.
What will it cost? To repay the bond, taxes will go up 2.3 cents per $100,000 in evaluation which amounts to $62 per year on the average Wake County home of $270,000. This tax rate is one of the lowest of the state’s larger schools districts.
Capital Improvement Plan for Wake County Schools 2017-2023
On June 20th, 2016 the Wake County Commissioners adopted an ordinance in support of the school system’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) FY 2017 – 2023. This historic move reflects a much improved process for developing a continuous long-term planning guide for the two boards, our 12 municipalities and our citizens. This new approach to developing a CIP allows the plan to be a “rolling” plan, meaning that it will be adjusted at the end of each fiscal year and then extended year-by-year to keep the CIP “rolling” forward as part of a continuous planning process. Past conflicts between the boards led to a “crisis-to-bond” mentality. Moving from consternation to cooperation means both schoolchildren and taxpayers benefit.
The School Board’s FY 2017 – 2023 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)—totaling $1.98 billion over seven years–includes plans for 14 new schools, 11 renovations, and other items including life cycle improvements, furniture and equipment, off-site infrastructure, land acquisition, other space needs, technology devices and infrastructure, mobile classroom relocations, program management, and program contingency.
What’s Next? Projects that are debt funded are not appropriated until the debt is secured. The Commissioners authorized the first year of the seven-year plan on June 20th, 2016. For the subsequent years, commissioners have multiple options to fund projects, including general obligation bonds.