The latest date concrete decisions can be made about the New
Hanover County Schools bond referendum is about six months before the November
2014 general election.
The New Hanover County Board of Education and the New
Hanover County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting on Wednesday, Oct.
16, at College Park Elementary to discuss the details of the schools bond referendum.
Agenda items included talking about the project items
priority list, the bond amount and the bond timeline, but there was little
discussion about a figure the commissioners would agree with and the timeline
for the largest projects — one new northern elementary school in Porters Neck
and three school replacements.
To end the meeting, member Lisa Estep asked the
commissioners, “What do you want us to do from here?”
Commission chairman Woody White responded, “We’re not
prepared to make a decision today if that's what you're asking."
White said the consensus is a hope to have the bond
referendum on the 2014 general election ballot and to take into consideration the county’s other debt management obligations “with every reason to believe
that it’s going to be agreeable to your board.”
Board of education member Ed Higgins said no more than four
to six months before the election would be sufficient time to make decisions
about a figure for the bond total and timeline.
“These are specific projects that we plan to do,” Higgins
said. “I think people are very responsive to seeing what projects are going to
Board of education chairman Don Hayes said various times and
amounts have been discussed between the chairs of both boards. He reiterated
how all of the project items work together.
“The situation in Wrightsville Beach, for example, where we’re
using the church, it’s going to eliminate that,” Hayes said.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley referenced the total amount
of $242 million in current costs throughout the meeting for all 25 items on the
2010-11 Facility Needs Survey.
School board members have rearranged items on the bond
referendum priority list since January 2013. The $6.25 million of Wrightsville
Beach School renovations and additions have remained No. 14.
School administration and county staff met on June 3 to come
up with a $160 million figure, which would end with the Wrightsville Beach
School renovations as the last item. School board members initially
self-imposed a lesser amount of $150 million limit for the referendum during a
Before discussion began, board and staff members toured
College Park Elementary, which is one of the top items on the priority list for
a $14.5 million replacement.
Current enrollment in the 42 New Hanover County Schools
facilities is 26,247, the highest it has ever been with 3,548 students over
There are 80 trailers spread throughout the schools in the
county, with nine currently at Wrightsville Beach School. The bond referendum
would help reduce the amount of trailers, but not eliminate them.