Bill would give commissioners option to take ownership of school property

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DAVIE COUNTY, N.C. -- School officials in Davie and Guilford County are closely watching a bill making its way through the state legislature that would give county commissioners the option to take ownership and control of school property.

The bill started as a state bill, but was recently amended into a local bill only including 9 systems: Beaufort, Davie, Dare, Guilford, Harnett, Lee, Rockingham, Rowan and Wake. State Senator Neal Hunt from Wake County is sponsoring the bill.

Davie County Superintendent Darrin Hartness says the bill is simply an effort to stop plans to allow a bond referendum for a new high school there, on the ballot in November. He says Senator Andrew Brock included Davie County against the wishes of the school system.

“It is evident that he included Davie County in this bill as a result of the Board of Education’s request to have a bond referendum in November to solve the high school issue. Senator Brock shared with me that he was not pleased with the current direction in Davie County, and giving the Board of Commissioners responsibility for all school facilities would address his concerns," Hartness said.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Brock had not returned calls about the bill.

The Chairman of Davie County's Commissioners, Robert Wisecarver says the majority of his board is in favor of the bill.

"It helps us on bond rating helps us on recovery of sales tax the school board are not able to collect on any sales tax where counties are.  That's something we can use if we need it down the road, but we have no intent right now of exercising that option," said Wisecarver.  He claims the vote will happen in November.

Some parents argue the bill also puts educational decisions best suited for the school board in the commissioner's control.

"It removes the checks and balances at the local level between the school system and the county commissioners, and gives them authority I believe could underplay a democratic process," said parent of 3 Julie Wayne.

The Senate passed the local bill today. It moves on to the House later this month.