JOHNSTON COUNTY - In a joint meeting, Johnston County Commissioners and the Board of Education learned more about the county's continued growth.
Some of the big emerging issues were transportation, development, water and sewer, and the seat availability in schools for the next ten years.
Over the last 20 years, the school district has grown by 20,000 students, now at more than 36,000 kids.
“I’d rather have this problem than especially some of the counties down east that have out migration and they’re not building new schools and we’ve built 20 new schools in the last 20 years,” says Vice Chairman of the County Commissioners Ted Godwin.
Godwin says that while education is of the utmost importance, there's always other needs in the county and it becomes a tug of war.
Godwin explains, “The school system has the needs, they see the needs everyday. We have to pay for it. We have to come up with the money to pay that. And that struggle will continue. They have one focus, we’ve got a lot of different focuses. With public safety we’ve got to build another detention center, we’ve got sewer water infrastructure needs, and we’re trying to balance all that and walk a fine line.”
He goes on to say, “And we’ve got debt repayment ongoing from previous schools so there’s a lot of challenge there. And hopefully the board of education will trim their pencil as sharp as they can and get their best bang for their buck.”
According to the study, the public school system in Johnston County typically grows by an average of 513 students in k-12 per year, but this year they've grown by 868.
Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow says, “Growth is a great opportunity and with a progressive group of commissioners and school board, we’re just excited what it brings to Johnston County schools.”
Now with the data from the study, new planning can be taken into consideration.
“Our county commissioners have said we feel that in order to keep up with the existing capital needs that we have for renovations as well as do to the growth that we should take a referendum to our public in November of 2018. So the information that we will all share and hear tonight will hopefully put us in a position to put a successful bond referendum out,” says Renfrow.
Godwin says, “The citizens of Johnston County have supported the bonds very well, they see the value in the education and generally, we endure a 75% approval rating for those bond issues but we also try to space it out within our debt capacity so that it all makes sense.”
Godwin also says the County Commissioners will need to have the bond in place with a formal adoption at their May meeting.
The last conducted and reviewed study took place in 2015.