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Voters May Decide Future Of Mobile Classrooms

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A decision about a $450 million school bond referendum will be up to the voters.

Wake County Commissioners on Monday agreed to put the school bond package on the October ballot.

The school system will use the money to build 13 new schools and make repairs at dozens of campuses.

Wake County classrooms are bursting at the seams, with more than 3,000 new students enrolling each year. The school system uses 600 mobile classrooms just to put a roof over the heads.

Educators say the student population is growing faster than they can build schools.

"You may have a subdivision that is permitted, and new families are moved into that subdivision within six months," said Mike Burriss, of the Wake County School System. "We can't get a school in place to react that fast."

The school system hopes to use the new bond money to buy more mobile classrooms; $15 million is dedicated toward buying and relocating trailers.

Parents wonder if that's the right priority.

"It seems strange," one parent said. "Use the money to expand, to add classrooms instead of pulling out more trailers and mobile units. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

Said another parent: "You wouldn't buy a new home and put a trailer next to it because you didn't didn't buy a home that was sufficient for all members of your household."

Eight percent of Wake County students are being taught in trailers now. The school system says reducing that number is an uphill battle.

"We wish," Burriss said. "But right now, our funding doesn't permit that. We're trying to reach a target of 95 percent to 100 percent. We'd love to do that. But right now, with the growth here, we don't think we can meet that goal."

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