Local News

Congress Could Provide Money for School Construction

Posted April 10, 2007 1:51 p.m. EDT

— Second-District Congressman Bob Etheridge announced plans Tuesday to introduce legislation that could provide North Carolina with millions of dollars for school construction.

The House bill calls for the federal government to offer $25 billion in no-interest bonds to school districts for construction needs, Etheridge said. North Carolina would get about $500 million under the proposal.

"I have long believed if you invest in education, you will get a return on that investment," the Democratic congressman said.

Etheridge, a member of the House Budget Committee, said his plan to fund the program would be pay-as-you-go. He said Congress could fund it without raising taxes, but he didn't provide specifics.

The announcement was made at Aversboro Elementary School in Garner, which is expanding to accommodate a crush of students. More than 600 students attend the Garner elementary school, which was designed to hold 400.

The school's expansion, scheduled to open in 2008 at a cost of $15 million to $20 million, is being financed by bonds from the record $970 million school bond referendum approved by Wake County voters in November.

"With the new building and the modular sites added to it, we have the ability to have 800 students. So, that will help with the growth as it happens in the Garner area," Principal Paul Domenico said.

Etheridge's bill is the latest effort to earmark money for school construction.

Gov. Mike Easley has suggested increasing prizes in the state lottery to draw in more players and raise more revenue. State lawmakers are considering proposals that would allow counties to raise the local sales tax and impose taxes on real estate sales to generate money for school construction.