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A bill that would give county commissioners control of school construction and ownership of school buildings has failed to clear a state legislative committee.
Rowan was among a handful of the state’s 100 counties included in the bill.
The House Government Committee voted against giving the legislation a favorable report after hearing testimony this morning.
Rep. Harry Warren of Rowan County is a co-chairman of the committee and conducted the meeting. Rep. Carl Ford of Rowan is a member.
Speakers in favor of the bill included a number of county commissioners from Wake County, where the idea has had strong backing.
Wake Commissioner Tony Gurley argued that taxpayers “want more efficient governing of the construction process” and that polling shows they believe commissioners are better able to build schools at lower cost.
Several speakers pointed to an instance several years ago in which the Wake school board wanted to pay $8 million for a proposed school site without getting an appraisal. Once the county got an appraisal, it bought the land for $4 million.
But other speakers said their county and school boards work well together and they saw no need to take authority from one board and give it to another.
“I think it’s a power grab,” Rep. George Cleveland of Onslow County told the committee. “We have enough strife between school boards and county commissioners. … These elected boards have defined responsibilities and they should learn how to work together.”
At the end of testimony, Warren called for a voice vote and ruled that those against the bill had more votes. He started to ask the two factions to stand, but was reminded by another committee member that he had already determined the bill had failed.

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