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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Pender County approves $178M school bond for November ballot

If approved, the $178 million school bond would construct two new schools and also renovate Topsail Middle. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti)

PENDER COUNTY — Taxpayers in Pender County will see the addition of a school bond referendum vote on November’s ballot.

While the Pender County commissioners had already discussed the $178 million school bond at length and supported putting it up for resident vote, Monday’s meeting made it official following a public hearing.

READ MORE: ‘Building to catch up’: Pender’s proposed multi-million school bond will alleviate overcrowding, increase taxes

ALSO: Pender County Schools requests $178M bond referendum on November ballot

The Local Government Commission accepted the county’s application for approval of the bonds, which would address the overpopulation of current facilities and the growing population in the region.

If approved by voters in November, taxes will be levied — estimated between 9 and 26 cents — to cover the costs of the principal plus roughly $94 million in interest.

Next steps include publishing a notice of the adoption of the bond order in the newspaper and sending a certified copy to the Pender County Board of Elections to be added on Nov. 8’s ballot.

Pender County Schools formally requested the county add the bond referendum at May’s commissioner’s meeting but has been discussing the need since March.

Consultant Dr. Jerome McKibben with McKibben Demographics out of South Carolina told commissioners in June that six schools are over capacity and PCS is building to “catch up.”

The $178-million bond would cover seven proposed projects across the county, including a new 800-student K-5 elementary school and a 1,200-student 6-8 school for $111.6 million combined. The goal is to begin construction in 2023.

Additional plans involve a new eight-bay maintenance garage, renovations to Topsail Middle, Rocky Point Elementary and Burgaw Middle, and improvements to the central services buildings.

The county has been working for the last two years to secure land to construct the new schools, which will be on the same campus. While the location has not yet been announced, the board assured it will be in proximity to areas in most need. 

The last time PCS passed a bond was for $75 million in 2014 when Surf City’s K-8 school was built, and Penderlea was renovated and expanded.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill said Monday PCS’s website will be updated with an information page about the bond later this week. It will provide a resource for the public to learn more about the process and the projects the money would support.

“This is our responsibility to make sure we’re giving the voters in this county their opportunity to make this decision,” commissioner George Brown said Monday.

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