School System Asks Commissioners For $31.5 Million For Building Repairs

Johnston County School Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow.

Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow met with the Johnston County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to discuss the district’s current capital needs.

During the meeting Dr. Renfrow gave a presentation outlying the most pressing facility needs of the school system.

An external independent audit of Johnston County Schools facilities conducted by Hite Associates in Greenville showed several areas of need. Renfrow said $31.5 million would be required to meet the most immediate needs.

The projects,school locations, and estimated costs include:

Clayton HS Demo & Replace Football Bleachers (Identified safety concern by independent contractor) $205,065
Clayton HS Multi-purpose building $500,000
Clayton MS Roof Replacement $5,243,000
Cleveland ES Roof Replacement $2,621,500
Cooper ES New 125 Ton Chiller $133,750
East Clayton ES Replace chillers and cooling tower (HVAC) $449,400
Four Oaks ES Roof Replacement (Butterfly Building) $531,790
Meadow School Replace controllers (HVAC) $240,750
North Johnston HS Replace Controllers, Hydronic Pipe Insulation & Piping, Gym Equipment. (HVAC) $920,200
Pine Level ES Replace Front End & Controllers (HVAC) $294,250
Princeton M/HS Replace controls (HVAC) $374,500
Selma ES Replace Roof (Buildings 4, 5, 6, 8) $1,863,699
Selma MS Roof Replacement $4,010,895
Selma MS Replace Chiller(HVAC) $321,000
Smithfield MS Roof Replacement $749,000
Smithfield-Selma HS Replace Controllers, Hydronic Pipe Insulation, Coiling Issues (HVAC) $361,125
Smithfield-Selma HS Roof Replacement $5,890,885
Smithfield-Selma HS Multi-purpose building $500,000
South Johnston HS Roof Replacement (Main Building) $5,838,455
South Johnston HS Facilities Upgrade $500,000
TOTAL $31,549,264

Johnston County Manager Rick Hester said commissioners agreed to speak with the NC Local Government Commission, which oversees all the borrowing for local governments in the state, to see what steps could be taken.

“There are a lot of guidelines we have to follow,” Hester said Thursday.

The county will likely seek “non-traditional funding” to pay for the repair costs.  Typically, voters are asked to decide on bond referendums to pay for school facility needs. However local governments have now been limited to only being able to hold a bond referendum in even number years.  Hester said it was too late to place a referendum on the November 2016 ballot, so officials will have to look at other options including a non-voter approved loan.

Hester said commissioners want to make sure the money can be borrowed without having to increase property taxes while still maintaining a 15 percent reserve level.  The goal, Hester said, is to have everything in place within 60 to 90 days to be able to move forward with a loan if commissioners so desire.

“Money from the county commissioners will help diminish the gap between our older and newer facilities,” said Dr. Renfrow. “We applaud their efforts in recognizing the disparity in facilities and appreciate their teaming with the school system to help find a solution.”

The county manager said he anticipates the school board seeking a bond referendum for other capital needs in 2018.