Onslow County residents vote next week on a bond referendum to allocate 75 million dollars for security upgrades, major maintenance projects and the replacement of two schools built in the 1920’s.
Next Tuesday, November 5th, voters in Onslow County will decide the fate of a bond referendum allocating 75 million dollars for the school system. The money will be used for security upgrades, major maintenance projects and the replacement of two schools built in the 1920’s. Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Barry Collins says the need for improvements is great.
“Onslow County Schools is the 13th largest school district in the state of North Carolina and we’re the second fastest school district.”
Each year, approximately 350 students are added to the Onslow County School system. In 1991, there were 27 schools in the district. Over the span of 20 years, 10 new schools were built to accommodate the growth. Collins says the influx of people moving to the area has put a huge burden on existing infrastructure.
“These are very critical needs. If this bond passes, it will be the cheapest way for our county to pay for it.”
A Long Range Facility Needs Assessment conducted in December 2011 found that the school system would need 35-hundred additional seats to handle future needs at the current rate of growth. The estimated cost to build new elementary schools, replace aging facilities, perform major scheduled maintenance, and install safety and security technology is $149 million dollars.
“that was presented, that was approved by our Board, it was presented to the county commissioners and we were on our way with the 149 million to be put on the ballot. About three days later, the school board reconvened and decided that the 149 million was just too much to ask our citizens to pay for at this time considering the economic situation.”
The School Board reconfigured items on the list to include only essential repairs and construction to be done in the next two to three years. Collins says they were able to cut the costs in half, to 75 million dollars.
“Six million of that is for safety and security which is the enhanced security and monitoring systems, the new door locks, the new scan card readers, the call buttons at the front office and the identification and check upgrade. We also have the ability with our software that our law enforcement can be notified and they can actually pull up on their system what our cameras are looking at.”
Collins says security upgrades will be installed at all 37 Onslow County School sites. The bulk of the 75 million dollar bond referendum will go to replace the aging Dixon Middle and Richlands Elementary Schools.
“one of the things that’s important to note is that everyone agrees that the needs are there. We’ve not really had anyone contest us on whether or not we’ve need these things.”
Onslow County residents are concerned with how the bond referendum, if approved, will impact their pocketbooks. While the school board doesn’t levy taxes, Collins has been told the property tax increase will only be about 2 to 6 cents on every 100 dollars. Given the average property value in Onslow is 178,700, the estimated increase to the average homeowner would be about $60 per year. For more information on Onslow County Schools’ bond referendum, go to publicradioeast.org and click on this story.
For more information about the bond referendum, go to http://onslowcounty.schoolinsites.com/?PN=Pages&SubP=Level1Page&L=2&DivisionID=2542&DepartmentID=2474&PageID=19108&ToggleSideNav=ShowAll