The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 27th

School Funds Focus of Hearing

The Orange County Board of Commissioners will hold the public hearing at 7 p.m. tonight at the Hillsborough courthouse.

Of the $75 million bond referendum, $47 million has been earmarked for educational needs in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City and Orange County school districts.

But not all officials agree about how to divvy resources between the two school systems should the Nov. 6 referendum pass.

Commissioner Alice Gordon said she has reservations about the referendum's provision for the construction of a new Orange County middle school without also providing for a new high school in Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools.

The bond package designates $18 million for a new Orange County middle school and $13 million apiece for construction of two Chapel Hill-Carrboro elementary schools.

But there is no provision for a new high school in Chapel Hill -- an omission that Gordon said was a poor use of resources. "The plan the commissioners have on right now is to build three schools and ignore the fourth," Gordon said.

She said existing high schools and middle schools in both systems should share facilities until the need for new building is more pressing.

But Richard Kennedy, a member of the Orange County School Board, said Gordon's plans do not take into account reasonable classroom sizes, which he thinks are essential for a good education.

"All the options and opportunities that they have in Chapel Hill we have given up on for one thing, and that is small classroom sizes," Kennedy said. "We have waited in line fair and square, and now she's treating the folks in Chapel Hill like their problems are greater than ours."

But Chapel Hill-Carrboro School officials also think their needs are getting minimalized. Some officials are questioning cutbacks in proposed elementary school funding included in the bond package.

The school system originally requested $13 million to build one elementary school and $14 million for another. The figures were reduced to $13 million each.

Superintendent Neil Pedersen said he fears the funding will be reduced further before the referendum goes before voters.

Pedersen said, "It's just a question of the commissioners finding the right mix and finding the right priority."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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