The Johnston County Board of Education will revamp its request for funding from the county to pay for new and expanded schools.
The board expects to submit a prioritized wish list to the county in the next few weeks, Superintendent of Schools Ed Croom said this week.
At the school board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, Croom said the schools might have to consider redistricting to deal with the explosive growth projected over the next few years. That was an option he had previously wanted to avoid, he said, because the changes are usually controversial.
“Every option is on the table right now,” he said.
The schools are suffering from severe overcrowding, and thousands of students are going to class in mobile classrooms.
According to forecasts from N.C. State University researchers, enrollment could climb by more than 7,800 by 2020.
To keep pace, school officials are lobbying the county Board of Commissioners for additional funding for expansion.
Last week, Croom unveiled a two-year, $114 million plan that includes building five new schools and adding new classrooms at several existing schools.
County commissioners say they are interested in funding the expansion, but at a joint meeting earlier this month they asked Croom to narrow his request to the most-pressing projects.
Allen Mims, chairman of the board of commissioners, has said new classrooms at existing schools should come first. Croom said he has since met with county officials and is now working on a prioritized list.
“We don’t always agree on how we get there, but I think we can agree that we have to move forward on this,” he said.
Fixing and replacing aging air-conditioning units might be near the top of the list. Every time a unit breaks down, school employees are forced to move the kids to another building and hold classes there. Croom said that has already happened once this year, at Wilson’s Mills Elementary School.
Teachers and administrators stopped by Tuesday’s school board meeting to talk about the success of a new college-preparation program called AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination. Program director Joe Eno said the program targets kids who are “middle of the pack academically” for tutoring.
First-generation college students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds are invited to participate. Administrators pick the students in grades 4-12 and teachers give them extra instruction in note-taking, time management and writing.
AVID teachers must attend summer training designed to help them get the best out of students who are only posting average grades.
“(AVID) is not only high expectations of our students, it’s high expectations of our teachers,” Eno said.
The results have been impressive so far. Every student who has completed the program up to this point has graduated from high school, Eno said, and 94 percent of them went to college.
Carlos Morataya, a junior at Smithfield-Selma High School, hopes to be one of those students. He already has received a $20,000 Victor E. Bell Scholarship thanks, he said, to the skills he received in the AVID program.
He said he wants to attend UNC-Chapel Hill next year and would eventually like to be a pediatrician.
Morataya attended the meeting with his parents and spoke to the board about the important role AVID played in his development. He credits the program with giving him skills and drive he needed to become an exceptional student.
“Every time I was on the verge of failure, AVID was there to pick me back up,” he said.