Just the facts

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

JACKSON – Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter, superintendent of Northampton County Schools, released a fact sheet about the need for and cost of the proposed middle/high school last week.

This follows the decision by the Board of County Commissioners decision to ask voters whether they would be willing to accept a supplemental school tax to pay for the costs associated with building a new school.

The question will be on the March 15, 2016 ballot for all Northampton County registered voters.

The form of the question voters will see on the ballot is:

“Shall the County levy a supplemental tax on all taxable property in an amount not to exceed 9.92 cents per one hundred dollars in value of property to finance the construction of a centrally-located, consolidated middle-high school for the students of the Northampton County Schools and to pay other capital outlay construction needs of Northampton County Schools?”

Woofter says in her fact sheet that the Department of Public Instruction has prepared an estimated enrollment projection for Northampton County that shows a declining population of students over the next four years.

The current enrollment in grades K-12 is 1,915 students. By the 2018-19 school year, enrollment is expected to be down to 1,703 students. DPI bases its projections on birth rates, population, and census data.

“With these projections,” Woofter said, “as we have consolidated high schools, it is predictable that we will need to consolidate middle schools, as well as close at least two existing school sites by the year 2018.”

The state and federal funding is based upon student enrollment at each school and the county pays for the upkeep of all schools.

“With these predicted student population numbers and the need to close two to three facilities,” she said, “the Northampton County Board of Education has discussed multiple options from grade groupings to closing our oldest facilities, three of which were built more than 50 years ago.”

Woofter said the proposed centrally located high school/middle school is the solution that best addresses: the decline in student population and the necessary school consolidations.

The new school would house about one-third of the district’s students, and ease the transportation problems of bussing students to all parts of the 80-mile long, 40-mile wide county.

As for the supplemental tax, which she said would mean a property tax increase of about .09 per $100 of valuation, the average tax value of $80,000 would pay an addition $70 in property taxes.

Just to give taxpayers a better idea, Woofter said a property tax value of $58,430 would mean the owner would pay $52.58 more per year, from $785.42 now to $838.00 per year; $158,895 would be a $143.01 increase, from $1,745.78 to $1,888.79 per year.

She cites further examples on her fact sheet, which is being made available to all interested residents.