The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 5th

School Overcrowding Prompts Bond Proposal

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School system has announced plans for a bond referendum to hit ballots November 2001, but area schools continue to feel the pressures of too many students. The bond will respond to the system's overcrowding problem, aiming to raise funds for a ninth elementary school to be constructed by the 2003-04 school year. Nicholas Didow, a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, said he hopes the bond will have no problems getting on the ballot. "I fully expect the Orange County Commissioners to process the construction needs and for the Orange County system to put the bond in front of voters," he said. With the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools reaching the highest growth in the state, overcrowding could reach an unacceptable level if county commissioners do not act on the bond referendum by 2001, Didow said. But until construction can begin on a new school, the system has started developing other solutions to deal with the mass influx of students. "The overcrowding committee is now working on strategies to relieve overcrowding until the new school is built," said Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen. "We will have problems with overcrowding next year, but we will also have a committee to recommend ways on how to alleviate this problem," he said. Brown said the problems could only be solved by beginning construction on the much-needed school. "I think that overcrowding is a very serious issue; the need for an elementary school is clear," Brown said. Didow emphasized the need for construction to begin as soon as possible for the school to truly address the overcrowding problems. "We needed an elementary school receiving and serving students yesterday," he said. But Didow said the school funding could be held up by other items that accompanied it on the bond referendum, such as a tax increase. "(The board members) are appreciative of the continued support but troubled if the prospects that a school bond referendum will be delayed while other components of bond package are assembled," he said. The bond must be discussed by a county committee before the proposal is sent to voters. The committee decides on the exact level of tax increase the bond will require. "When the amount of tax increase is put out, voters are told what the bond is for, and they can vote from there," Brown said. Next November's bond will not be the first to address school system needs. For the past three years, bonds have been used to develop other schools in the county. "East Chapel Hill (High School) was also built with a bond," said Orange County Commissioner Margaret Brown. "(Mary) Scroggs Elementary was built last year through a bond, and Smith (Middle School) is being built now." The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.


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