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Johnston School Leaders Say Bond Would Fund Expansion, Renovation Projects

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Johnston County voters will consider on Tuesday an $85 million bond proposal that would fund construction on new schools and renovations on others.

The Johnston County school system is growing with approximately 1,400 new students each year. Many principals say they need more space.

"It is tremendous growth, and it's very very fast," principal Mary Nell Ferguson of Cleveland Elementary School said. The school was built for 900 students, but serves 1,200. There are 21 mobile units and one very long lunch period.

"We like to say the kindergarteners have brunch because I think they start at 10:30 and I think lunch goes until 1:30," said Sheri Wall, a second grade teacher at Cleveland.

School officials say passing a bond proposal would ease the pressure for every school in the county.

The $85 million plan would build two new elementary schools, one new middle school and fund 16 improvement projects.

The new elementary schools would come online first to address growth in the western part of the county.

"We must have the bond pass and must get these new schools built," Ferguson said.

Still, the bond is not a permanent solution.

Over the next five years, Johnston County expects to add 10,000 more students.

Johnston County Superintendent Anthony Parker says the school system is looking at all strategies to maximize space. He also said year-round schools and community college programs are future possibilities.

"There are a number of creative avenues that we're willing to look at and take a chance on," Parker said.

First, schools hope this bond proposal will stick.

There is no organized opposition to the bond proposal. And the proposal itself will not raise property taxes.

In addition to the school bond, voters will also weigh a $10 million option for Johnston Community College. The school expects enrollment to increase by 7,000 more students over the next two years.


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