Harnett School Board Supports New Construction Bond

Local Bond Could Raise Taxes

The Harnett County Schools Board of Education supported the possibility of pursuing a bond to help with school construction projects.

HCS Superintendent Aaron Fleming briefed the board earlier this month on a discussion he had with County Manager Paula Stewart about putting another local school construction bond on the ballot next year. Fleming said he presented an estimate of how much the district would need to address prioritized projects and the cost is at least $200 million.

“It is only certain years you can put this on the ballot,” Fleming said. “When we added up the amounts, we were somewhere in the $200-225 million range. My recommendation to her is that it would have to be about a $250 million bond to do some of our most pressing things immediately. It’s going to take a year to stage everything.”

Fleming said Stewart’s staff would map out any possible tax increases associated with passing a bond, and a potential state bond could lower the amount needed locally. A $2 billion state bond would net Harnett County approximately $30 million on a dollar for match, but Fleming said that number is attainable.

“If we did have a state bond in the $2 billion range, you’d be able to maybe do a local bond for $200-220 million, something along those lines,” said Fleming. “If we receive $30-35 million, we’ve got enough going that a match would not be an issue there. That would be a $60 million project.”

Already faced with a large number of projects, any potential bond money would help address some of the district’s more pressing concerns. Fleming listed a new middle school and high school, a custodial facility, a bus garage, STAR renovations or a new alternative school, additions at Highlands Elementary and Overhills Elementary, and a new Southwest Harnett Elementary as a few of the more immediate needs in the county.

“I’m for a bond and will support it,” Board Chairman Eddie Jaggers said. “We’re so far behind still it’s the only way to even gain on it is to do a bond.”

In terms of conducting any campaign for a new school construction bond, Fleming said the school board and the district can’t use any public money to help promote support for its passage.

“Potentially the time is right to do that,” said Fleming. “It’s going to take a lot of work for us. If we were to want to have an actual school bond campaign, it cannot be administered by the school board or HCS. It has to all be private money. When I came here, Harnett County was one of the largest school districts in the state to not have a private foundation. That would be one big goal of the educational foundation to raise money and spend money on. It would be just like a campaign that you’ve seen for state bonds or other local bonds.”

All five members of the board supported moving forward with a possible local bond.

-Dunn Daily Record