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2014 Bond FAQ's

Classroom with teacher in front leading a lesson 

What is a bond?
The sale of municipal bonds is a form of long-term borrowing that spreads the cost of major capital improvements over the years facilities are used. This method of financing ensures that current and future users help pay for the improvements

Why are bonds needed?
The building and renovation of schools are not financed through the school system’s operating funds, but through bonds. Similar to obtaining a mortgage on a residence to spread the cost of home buying
over a number of years, bonds spread the cost of major capital improvements over a number of years.

How will passage affect the county’s bond rating?
New Hanover County is one of only a handful of counties in North Carolina, and in the nation, which have a AAA credit rating, which translates into the lowest available interest rates.

Because of these ratings, New Hanover County’s bonds always sell at exceptionally low interest rates. The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners controls all county bond sales within financial guidelines drawn to ensure that the coveted triple-A bond ratings are not jeopardized.

Why a referendum?
The law requires that voters approved bonds since they are a future obligation for taxpayers.

What about lottery money?
The state splits lottery funds into five categories — teacher salaries, school construction projects, prekindergarten funding, college scholarships, and financial aid. A portion of funds generated each year are designated for each category and then allocated out to counties. However, since the inception of the lottery in 2006, other funding for capital needs were eliminated or reduced, resulting in no net increase. Today, the only new funding provided by the lottery are scholarships and financial aid.

New Hanover County Schools typically receives from the N.C. Education Lottery approximately $1.7 million each year for school construction. These funds are budgeted each year as part of the annual capital budget process. The funds are used primarily for building upkeep and repair. Recent projects include roof replacements, HVAC replacements, lighting and electrical improvements, and replacement of doors and hardware.

Can bond money be used for pay raises or other operating expenses?
No. Bond funds can only be used for capital projects.

Will the 2014 bond request cover all of New Hanover County Schools’ construction and renovation needs?
No. The 2014 bond request will only cover 14 of the district’s most pressing capital projects prioritized by the New Hanover County Board of Education and approved by New Hanover Board of Commissioners.

What happens if the bond doesn’t pass?
Teachers will continue to teach and students will continue to learn in outdated facilities that are not conducive to learning; building system and infrastructure will continue to deteriorate; and the School System will have to look for other ways to deal with a growing student population. These may include redistricting more frequently, more mobile units, and consideration of split schedules or multi-track year round calendars.

What is the current student enrollment for New Hanover County Schools?
Student enrollment for the first month of the 2013-14 school year was 26,247. That is the highest enrollment ever in New Hanover County Schools.

How does current enrollment compare to the capacity of our schools?
The schools are over capacity by 3,548 students. The most overcrowded schools are at the elementary school level, which are 1,960 students over capacity. The middle schools are 422 students over capacity, and the high schools are 1,166 over capacity.

What are the enrollment projections for New Hanover County Schools?
New Hanover County receives enrollment projections from the NC Department of Public Instruction. The School System has exceeded those projections for the past four years, and is projected to grow by an additional 3,000 students in the next seven years.

What work is included in the school bond?
The school bond would fund a new elementary school in northeastern New Hanover County; building replacements for College Park and Blair Elementary Schools; additions and renovations at Laney High, Hoggard High, New Hanover High, and Wrightsville Beach Elementary Schools; renovations at Roland-Grise, Noble, Trask, and Myrtle Grove Middle Schools; district-wide improvements to building systems and infrastructure; and technology, safety, and security improvements at all schools. A more detailed description of all the individual projects is available on under The Projects -> link section.

How were the projects selected for the school bond?

The first paragraph of N.C.G.S. 115C-521 requires Local Boards of Education to submit their long-range plans for meeting school facility needs to the State Board of Education every five years. The last plan was submitted by New Hanover County Board of Education in 2010-11. The plan considers:

  • capacities and enrollment projections for each school;
  • conditions of existing facilities; and
  • the education adequacy of existing facilities.

The 2010-11 plan identified over $390 million in facility needs. Over the past year, the Board of Education worked to prioritize the most critical needs, and submitted the top 25 projects to the County Commissioners on May 5, 2014. The County Commissioners approved the dollar amount of the school bond at their meeting on June 2, 2014. The final list of projects and their description is available under The Projects.


What is the anticipated schedule for implementing projects included in the school bond?
New school construction will be scheduled to allow use as “swing spaces” for school replacements, and additions and renovations at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School. The new school in northeastern New Hanover County, Blair Elementary, College Park Elementary, and Wrightsville Beach Elementary will all open with their own population of students in August 2019. The high school additions and renovations will be phased in over a five year period. District-wide improvements for building systems, building infrastructure, technology, safety and security will be phased in over a 3-4 year period. A more detailed schedule for each individual project is available here.