Iredell commissioners should let voters decide in November whether to issue $86 million in bonds to meet the districts’ needs, an Iredell citizens group says
Iredell-Mooresville Advocates for Children, which has at least 600 Facebook followers, will urge county commissioners May 23 to let voters decide in November on $86 million in school building needs in the Mooresville and Iredell-Statesville school systems.
The group plans to pack the Board of Commissioners meeting at 7 p.m. that night to ask the board to place a bond referendum on the general election ballot, group member David Coble of Mooresville said.
The $86 million represents the first of three phases of $250 million in overall school building needs over the next decade. A 14-member countywide facilities task force told commissioners about the needs at an informational meeting at the Iredell County Government Center in Statesville on May 7. The task force spent a year studying building needs in the systems.
Commissioners made no commitments May 7 on how or whether to fund the myriad projects identified by the task force.
If the county sought bonds for just the $86 million first phase, “we would be third-highest in the state per-capita debt service,” commissioner David Boone told the task force. “If we passed the entire thing, we’d be highest per-capita debt service.”
Boone asked whether the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education couldn’t just raise the district’s supplemental tax rate to fund Mooresville’s $40 million in needs. Officials said such a tax hike would be exorbitant and that a bond referendum ensures that every Iredell County resident shares in every school’s needs countywide.
From a pure safety standpoint, Mooresville’s greatest needs are renovating the Mooresville High School gym and auditorium, which have been extensively damaged by water over the decades, Superintendent Mark Edwards told the commissioners May 7.
The district bans students from jumping up and down in the gym’s bleachers as they cheer because their movement causes the other side of the gym to move, Todd Black, the district’s director of operations, told commissioners.
“The first time I saw it, I got concerned,” Edwards said of the gym moving. “People were laughing about it. I wasn’t laughing about it. I called in engineers to conduct tests.”
In the Iredell-Statesville system, the task force identified deteriorating school building canopies and retaining walls, broken curbs, aging pavement, concrete at numerous sites needing replacement, numerous bathrooms needing refurbishment and outdated electrical equipment needing replacement at many locations. Ceilings, lighting and insulation need upgrading across the system, and eight schools are crowded or are about to be.
Woodland Heights Elementary School off Brawley School Road will require changes when Brawley Middle School moves there in one to three years. A middle school is planned at Third Creek Elementary in Statesville. Minor renovations to Brawley Middle School will be needed when Mount Mourne IB moves there, and Statesville Middle School will have to be renovated when Northview IB moves there in coming years.
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