The Onslow County Board of Education met with the Board of Commissioners Wednesday and approved an expansion plan, as many of the county's schools had already reached full capacity. According to the plan, the school system saw about 259 students each year. Administrators were expecting to see more than 4,000 in the next five years. Onslow County Manager Jeffrey Hudson said this influx of students could be because the county is one of the fastest-growing areas in North Carolina. With strong commercial business and a large military community, visitors and other people were constantly streaming in. With this growth, the Board of Education wanted to build five new school sites: 1) replace Richlands Elementary School 2) build a new southern area elementary school using the old Dixon Middle School site 3) build a new west central area elementary school 4) replace Dixon Middle School 5 build a high school vocational center. School system leaders also wanted to expand Northwoods Park Middle School and Parkwood Elementary School. Hudson said the county government would borrow the money needed from bonds. The money would go toward safety, security, construction and communicatons. To help pay back the funds, the government would need to raise property taxes up to 6.65 cents per $100. With this jump in property tax, average families could pay a little more than $118 more in property taxes. But before any of this can happen, the public must vote on whether or not they want the expansion plan to take effect in a general vote ballot on May 14. If Onslow County residents vote yes, they would agree that the government may raise property taxes to make the plan happen. Some people supported the expansion because they wanted a safer and stronger learning environment for students. "Education is really important," said Bethany Break, an Onslow County resident. "I don't have any kids right now but we plan on having them in the future. And I'd really like to know that they're in a very good school system." One former substitute teacher hds seen overcrowding firsthand. "I think classroom overcrowding right now is beyond where it should be," said Jude Becker. "Classrooms should be smaller so students get the attention they deserve." Others weren't too optimistic about the possible tax increase. "My husband is about to retire at the end of February," said Kay Brandon, a concerned resident. "We're definitely going to be on a fixed income and this is a big jump in property taxes." "Schools are great, and I have two grandchildren in the schools," said Carol Huntoon, another concerned resident. "But you can only afford what you can afford."
Onslow Co. School district approves $150 million expansion plan
POSTED: 4:17 PM Jan 30 2013 UPDATED: 1:43 AM Jan 18 2013
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