Determined to see this year’s $500 million school bond referendum passed, Wake County officials have kicked off an awareness campaign to encourage voters to support the initiative.

The Friends of Wake County, the campaign’s steering committee, on Monday began their efforts to educate the public by inviting them to tour schools and comment on the preliminary school construction plans. Voters go to the polls on Nov. 7.

At stake are desperately needed funds for capital projects that officials say are needed to accommodate the growth in the school system. It is expected that the bond proceeds and $50 million in cash will pay for 14 new schools, as well as building renovations for at least two dozen other schools.

Last year, county officials put a $650 million bond proposal on the ballot, but voters rejected it. By asking for less money this time, and by trying to assure voters that property taxes won’t skyrocket to pay off the bonds, officials hope they will be successful this year.

One thing that officials have in their favor is the support of an opponent of last year’s referendum. Chuck Fuller, director of N.C. Citizens for a Sound

Economy, says he now supports the plan because officials say that taxes won’t be raised. However, he still has not pledged his full support.

Copyright c 2000 Thomson Financial Municipals Group. All Rights Reserved.