New Wake School superintendent sets sights on $810 million bond - WNCN: News, Weather

New Wake School superintendent sets sights on $810 million bond

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Dr. Jim Merrill was officially sworn in as the new superintendent of Wake County Schools Tuesday. Dr. Jim Merrill was officially sworn in as the new superintendent of Wake County Schools Tuesday.
CARY, N.C. -

One of the biggest priorities for Wake County Schools' new superintendent is getting a multi-million dollar school bond passed to pay for 16 new schools.

Dr. Jim Merrill was officially sworn in as the new superintendent of Wake County Schools Tuesday. As superintendent, Merrill said his top priorities are increasing student achievement and seeing that voters approve an $810 million school construction bond this fall.

The school system has about 150,000 students, and projections indicate that by 2018 there will be 20,000 more students in the system.

To facilitate the growth, the Wake County Public School System is calling for an additional 16 new schools, and Merrill hopes to cover the cost of those schools with the bond. Six schools are also in need of added space because they have already reached capacity, school leaders said.

But the Wake County Tax Payers Association says it is urging people to vote against the bond because it says the county doesn't need it.

"The Wake County Public School System is calling for an additional 16 new schools. We don't think they really need it because we believe they've got enough capacity to meet the needs for four to five years," said Anthony Pecoraro with the Wake County Taxpayers Association.

Wake County School Board Chairman Keith Sutton argues that even in a recession, Wake County saw 3,500 new students last year.

"I'm not sure what numbers they are looking at," Sutton said. "I don't know if they're looking at facility numbers or population growth."

Advocates say the hike in property taxes would add about $12 a month to the average homeowner's tax bill. They also say the increase is conservative enough not to be a burden.

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