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Johnston County Seeks Referendum To Combat Growing Classroom Shortage

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CLAYTON, N.C. — Johnston County is growing so fast, its school system cannot keep up.

Administrators are considering an all-too familiar plan to bridge the gap between growth and revenue: school bonds.

Johnston County Schools Superintendent Anthony Parker said a time frame for a possible bond referendum likely would be established in the next six months.

The proposal has a price tag of $155 million, and it is being called "Facilities 2008." Three elementary schools, two middle schools and a new high school are in the plan.

The district is growing at a rate of 1,600 students per year.

In the Social Studies department at Clayton High School, there are 12 teachers but only seven classrooms. So, some teachers roam without a classroom to call their own.

Fifteen teachers in the entire school fit into that equation.

"We're growing by 200 students a year," Clayton principal Jerry Smith said. "We could use 10 new classrooms immediately."

Short-term, Smith said, that could mean more mobile units. Long-term, said Parker, could be a bond referendum presented to the county commissioners in the very near future.

Without new construction, Smith said he does not see the numbers problem ending any time soon.

"We're just getting a tremendous influx of people," he said. "We graduate 300 students this year, but we'll pick up 450."

The last time Johnston County voters approved a bond proposal was three years ago. The way it is looking now, this one would not raise taxes.


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