Brunswick County education leaders are gearing up to get the word out about the bond referendum being put forth to voters this November.
A newly formed committee — comprised of district staff and volunteers — has been tasked with tackling a publicity campaign ahead of the general election. The committee plans to host informational events later this month at all three of the district’s traditional high schools.
Dubbed the “School Bond Kickoff Celebrations,” the sessions are set for 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 in the gymnasiums North, South and West Brunswick. The events are for citizens wanting to learn more about the individual projects within the $152 total bond measure.
Brunswick County Board of Commissioners finally gave the green light to the much-debated referendum in April, and the school board signed off on a project plan the following month.
But the proposal was almost shelved last year by commissioners concerned about the price tag, as well as division on the school board.
That division came to a head in November, when member Charlie Miller stood with chairman Catherine Cooke on a failed motion to postpone the bond referendum until 2018.
Dubbed the “School Bond Kickoff Celebrations,” the sessions are set for … Thursday, Aug. 18
Less than two months later, the board suddenly standing together in unanimous support of the measure, which highlights major work that superintendent Les Tubb said is “not just about building new buildings and facility improvements.”
“They are necessary to promote the safety, security and instructional improvement efforts of the district and schools,” Tubb noted in the plan’s executive summary released earlier this summer.
The comprehensive project list covers each of the county’s 19 schools, giving top priority to those in the northern part of the county.
As that area continues to grow at a rapid pace, Tubb said in an earlier interview that all schools in that area but one, Belville Elementary, are expected to reach maximum capacity in the next three to five years.
The district hopes to build a new $24.5 million middle school in the Town Creek area to funnel students away from Leland Middle, the only other grades 6-8 school in that part of the county.
Under the bond plan, the district’s oldest school – Lincoln Elementary, originally built in 1957 – would receive $4.6 million in upgrades, including a six-classroom addition. Town Creek Elementary, too, would get six new classrooms.
At the other end of the county, West Brunswick High is also pushing its limit, with 1,394 students and a capacity of only 1,305. Under the bond proposal, West would get a new building with 12 classrooms, as well as an additional science lab and sweeping improvements to its athletic facilities at a total cost of just over $17 million.
District leaders also hope to build a 500-student Brunswick County Early College High building on the campus of Brunswick Community College. The possibility of reserving some of that space for a career and technical vocation program will be discussed with the community college’s administration prior to construction, according to the approved bond plan.
Click here to view the plan in detail.
The impact of the bond is, overall, an estimated four-cent increase in property taxes. On a tax bill for a $200,000 home, for example, there would be an increase of approximately $75 annually.
But since the county is still paying off the district’s $83 million bond from 1999, there would be some overlap in paying both old and new debt, meaning tax rates could be higher during certain years.
Should a majority of Brunswick County voters agree to the bond, the district would immediately start planning for work on Town Creek Middle School, as well as classroom additions at several county schools. Construction would not begin until July 2017.