Local News

Durham Voters Approve $105 Million School Bond Package

Posted November 5, 2003 5:51 a.m. EST

— Durham voters approved one the largest bond issues in the history of the Durham Public School system Tuesday. The $105 million bond will help build two more schools and renovate 24 others.

Fayetteville Street Elementary is showing its age and will benefit from the bond. Four decades old, the school has never had a major renovation.

"You never know what to expect and that causes frustration for the teachers as well as the students," principal Queen Scarborough said.

Some students said they know about some of the problems with the school.

"The blinds are broken because they're old and we haven't had anyone to fix them yet," student Mercedes Yates said.

The school does not have central air and the window units do not work half the time. Teachers worry conditions are taking a toll on students.

"It's hard for them to concentrate. Some of the kids get sick and have nosebleeds as a result of the heating conditions," teacher Felicia Sawyer said.

In this age of technology, Fayetteville Street Elementary and other schools are not up to speed. Fayetteville Street officials said half the computers in their computer lab do not work and the ones that do work are old.

"Techonology is a place we have to do better sooner," said Anne Denlinger, superintendent of Durham Public Schools. "Durham Public Schools is 113 out of 117 school districts in regard to technology."

Nearly $2 million of the bond package would be spent on technology upgrades systemwide. Denlinger said more wireless computer labs are needed and more current computers are critical. For now, teachers and students are making due with what they have.

"We're not asking for much. We just want to be comfortable and make it a safe place for our kids here at Fayetteville Street," Scarborough said.

Durham voters also overwhelmingly approved three other bond issues on the ballot. They include $4.7 million to build a new library, $8.3 million for improvements at Durham Technical Community College and $5.2 million to complete the BioQuest exhibit at the Museum of Life and Science.