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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

WOC bonds will move North ELC to new school


Last updated 3/26/2024 at 9:56pm

The West Orange-Cove school district has plans to build a new North Early Learning Center near the elementary school if voters in May approve a $72 million bond proposal.

The bulk of the bond money will go toward building the new school to replace the current one on Cordrey Avenue in Orange that was built in 1964.

The school district has already acquired 27 acres of land behind West Orange-Stark Elementary School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Pinehurst. The elementary school opened in 2010.

North Early Learning Center was built as a high school and later served as a middle school. For nearly 40 years, the building school has been the early learning center for Pre-K age 3, Pre-K age 4, Head Start, and early childhood special education. Currently, the school has 300 students.

The school district is reporting that because of its tax base and finances, taxpayers will not see an increase in their property taxes if voters approve. Still, the state law requires school districts to say on the ballots a bond issue could raise property taxes.

April 7 will be the deadline to register to vote, if not already registered, for the bonds. The election will be May 4 and this year, the district does not have to have a board of trustees election because the incumbents filed to run and drew no opponents.

Early voting for the election will be April 22-26, and April 29-30.

The new early learning center will take up the majority of the $72 million in the bond issue. The district also plans to improve safety and security for existing schools and buildings, plus install technology upgrades.

In addition, the bonds will be used to improve existing staff and student restrooms for better hygiene, plus buy new school buses. The other project is improvements in the district's HVAC systems for air conditioning and heating. The upgrades will be more energy efficient to save on utility bills and improve airflow in buildings.

The district currently has a tax rate of $1.06 per $100 valuation. The rate is 80 cents per $100 for maintenance and operations, plus 26 cents per $100 valuation for interest and sinking fund to pay for bonds. Homestead exemptions include a $100,000 exemption required by the state, plus the district gives an addition 20 percent homestead exemption.

The district created a Facilities Advisory Committee last year with representatives from the community along with district staff members to study needs. Based on the committee's recommendation, the school board earlier this year call for the bond election.


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