As a parent of a Town Creek Elementary School student, Valirie Lewis has seen the growth in the northern part of Brunswick County first-hand and is ready to see the new Town Creek middle school built in time for her child to attend.
Because of her commitment to the success of the $152-million school bond issue on Election Day, Lewis joined the county bond committee to help inform her friends and neighbors about the need for the bond projects in Brunswick County, which is experiencing population growth in all areas.
At the committee’s first meeting Tuesday night, Lewis along with other parents, school administrators, retired educators and representatives of local organizations listened to the bond marketing strategies and viewed the educational materials for their upcoming presentations provided by Brunswick County Schools.
The purpose of the presentations, scheduled for a variety of local governments, civic and professional organizations and other community groups, is to educate the public on the new construction, renovations and upgrades and how they will benefit student achievement in Brunswick County.
Brunswick County Schools’ director of community engagement Jessica Swencki urged the 30 to 40 people in attendance to participate in the upcoming August 18 bond kick-off at the three traditional high schools and sought their feedback on how to better bring the message across to the public.
“When we look at the (bond) project book, we don’t want to say, ‘You’re getting this much, and you’re getting this much,” Swencki said. Instead, the projects will be presented based on how they meet the five themes the school system emphasizes: accessibility and safety; how students learn; growth; sustainability; and lifelong wellness.
The three-phase, 10-year bond project would include updates to the existing Brunswick County Early College High School as well as eventual construction of a new early college building on the Brunswick Community College campus, estimated to cost $23.7-million.
In order to alleviate overcrowding at Leland Middle School, $24.5-million is proposed to build an 80,000-square-foot Town Creek middle school on the same campus with Town Creek Elementary School in the northern section of the county. The new school would be structurally similar to Cedar Grove Middle.
Swencki said the school has a list of possible questions and answers for the public, including one of the most asked: How much will it cost the taxpayer? The presentation includes the explanation that owners of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $77.60 per year, which also includes continued payment on the 1999 bond projects.
Committee presentations will also emphasize the fact that students in Brunswick County elementary schools will benefit from the middle school improvements and new construction, while today’s middle school students will reap the rewards of the high school projects.
After hearing the presentation and strategies, Brunswick Community College trustee and former school board member Pat Purvis Brown said she was ready to take on the challenge.
“I am challenged, enthusiastic and hopeful,” said Brown, who served on the school board when the 1999 referendum was approved.
“I’m hopeful because the people of Brunswick County are going to understand the importance of what’s about to happen,” she said. “We are at the brink of the beginning of making education a larger priority in Brunswick County than it’s ever been.”
Lewis said she plans to spread the word to local businesses, particularly real estate agencies, where the agents have seen the growth and the need for quality schools for people moving to Brunswick County.
For his part, Brunswick County Board of Education chairman Bud Thorsen, who also served in 1999, expressed his optimism about the issue.
“It was a challenge back then, but all five board members were united, and I want to tell you today, that all five board members are also united behind the bond…. We are going to push this bond and get it passed.”