School Climate & Safety

Local Votes on Bonds Said to Benefit From Turnout

By Lesli A. Maxwell — November 10, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Voters in Wake County, N.C., approved one of the largest school construction bonds on local ballots last week, giving the green light to build schools that will house an exploding student population.

The proposal there was one of several school bond issues that voters across the country weighed Nov. 7 as they cast ballots on local matters along with nationally significant midterm elections for Congress and numerous state offices. Proponents of the measures said they likely benefited from high voter turnout driven largely by interest in the congressional races.

Gubernatorial Results May Signal Policy Shift
Democratic Majority to Put Education Policy on Agenda
Voters Reject Proposed Limits on Spending
GOP Chiefs Fare Well in Elections
Local Votes on Bonds Said to Benefit From Turnout
View election data map.

In Wake County, which includes Raleigh, 53 percent of voters approved the $970 million bond measure, which supporters said would be the first of several bonds needed to finance more than $5 billion in school construction needs over the next 14 years.

With just more than 128,000 students enrolled this school year, the district expects to grow by an additional 40,000 students by 2010, said Del Burns, the superintendent of the Wake County schools. The district added 7,600 students to its roster this fall.

“We are growing so fast, and we have to have much more capacity,” Mr. Burns said. “This bond pays for a three-year building program. It’s just the first part of what we are going to need to build.”

Keeping Pace

The bond’s passage will allow the district to move ahead immediately with plans to build two high schools, four middle schools, and 11 elementary schools by 2010, Mr. Burns said. Even when the new campuses open, district officials said, several elementary and middle schools will have to remain on a year-round calendar to meet the enrollment demands.

The Wake County district is nationally known for its 6-year-old practice of using family-income levels to assign some students to schools as a means of limiting the concentration of poverty at any one campus.

Michael Evans, the spokesman for the district, said building new schools would not alter that policy.

In San Francisco, backers persuaded 74 percent of voters to support Measure A, a $450 million bond to help the city’s school district upgrade and repair its aging campuses and school buildings. It was the largest local school bond ever passed by San Francisco voters in support of the 56,000-student system.

Voters in two small Texas cities, meanwhile, approved bond measures that

included millions of dollars to help their school districts pay for conversions from traditional textbooks to electronic ones. The voters in Lancaster and Forney, located in suburban Dallas, said yes to school bond packages that earmark money to provide paperless “e-books” to students.

In Forney, 52 percent of voters approved Proposition 5, an $11.8 million bond to pay for laptop computers and system upgrades that officials of the 5,000-student district there said would help them switch students to using only electronic textbooks within the next two years. In Lancaster, 54 percent of voters agreed to a $215 million bond that, in part, will pay for laptop purchases and other technological upgrades to move the 5,200-student district toward paperless textbooks.

And in St. Paul, Minn., voters agreed to pay more in property taxes and extend an existing levy that together will raise $30 million in additional revenue annually for the city’s schools. Some of the money will pay for adding all-day kindergarten to nine schools that don’t already offer it, and go for early-childhood programs that have operated on temporary allocations.

Governance Changes

School district governance was an issue on several ballots.

In Florida, voters in two counties were asked whether they wanted to change how their superintendents of schools are chosen.

In Lake County, near Orlando, 55 percent of voters opted to ditch the tradition of electing the superintendent of the 40,000-student school district in favor of an appointed chief who will be chosen by the elected school board. But the same idea was resoundingly defeated in Pasco County, north of Tampa, where 58 percent of voters opted to retain their right to elect a superintendent for the 60,000 student-system.

Most of Florida’s 67 school districts—42 of them now—allow voters to elect superintendents directly, a practice that goes back decades.

Voters in Sacramento, Calif., approved a change in how that district will elect school board members in future elections. Currently, members are elected districtwide, but in two measures that won last week, voters will soon elect members to represent specific voting areas.

A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2006 edition of Education Week as Local Votes on Bonds Said to Benefit From Turnout

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety School Dress Codes Often Target Girls. What Happens When Male Teachers Have to Enforce Them?
Male teachers say the task can put them in a risky and uncomfortable position.
11 min read
Image of articles of clothing on a coat hook outside a school entrance.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
School Climate & Safety Are School Buses Safe? An Expert Explains
A perennial concern is getting new attention.
4 min read
Photo of rescue workers and turned over school bus.
Brandy Taylor / iStock / Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Jury Finds Michigan School Shooter’s Mother Guilty of Manslaughter
Jennifer Crumbley was accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help for her son's mental health.
2 min read
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP
School Climate & Safety A School Removed Bathroom Mirrors to Keep Students From Making TikToks. Will It Work?
The desperate strategy for keeping students in class illuminates the challenge schools face in competing with social media.
5 min read
Empty blue school bathroom showing the bathroom sinks without mirrors.
iStock/Getty