Local News

Johnston County: Timing Key To Passing $156 Million School Bond Referendum

Posted April 15, 2004

— The Johnston County School Board has a plan to deal with growth, and the chairman of the county commission says a bond referendum would not raise taxes.

So what is the holdup for getting this issue to the voters? It is a matter of timing.

The

Johnston County School system

is growing by more than 1,500 students a year.

"By the end of 2005, we'll be out of capacity," said Dr. Anthony Parker, Johnston County school superintendent.

The immediate solution is outlined in a $156 million proposal to fix and renovate existing schools and fund three new elementary schools, two new middle schools and a new high school.

The first phase of the plan will not reach voters as soon as the superintendent would like.

"If all the circumstances were as we wanted them to be, I would have preferred it to pass in 2004," Parker said.

The superintendent says he is now looking at early 2005. Parker hopes the school board and county commissioners can work out details by July.

"The timing is when do we think we can pass the bond issue in the county? That sort of drives the approach we take and when we do that," said J.H. Langdon, county commission chairman.

Langdon feels a bond referendum has a better chance of passing when it is not overshadowed by a presidential election and other big elections. He says if the referendum fails, Johnston County faces an even bigger setback.

"The last time one failed it set us back about five years," Langdon said.

The county and the superintendent feel there is a little time to play with, but not much.

"We can't push it back any further," Parker said.

Alternatives like year-round schools were considered to relieve overcrowding. Parents who were surveyed overwhelmingly opposed the idea. The superintendent also said year-round schools would not address all of the growth issues.

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