DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – With Election Day just weeks away, those who live in Durham County will consider $550.2 billion worth of education bonds on the ballot this November.
The bonds would go toward repairing education buildings in the county. These bond referendums include $423.5 million for Durham Public Schools, $112.7 million for Durham Technical Community College and $14 million for the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science.
The bond money for DPS would go toward different projects, including spending more than $100 million on moving the Durham School of the Arts (DSA) from downtown to Duke Homestead Road, as their current building is more than 100 years old.
“Durham Public Schools is trying to make sure that we have adequate spaces for 21st century learning environments in our schools,” Frederick Davis told CBS 17 two weeks ago.
Davis is the executive director of building services for DPS. He said the bond money would also go toward building a new elementary school in south Durham.
The bond money will also go toward repairs and expansion to multiple elementary schools.
Davis showed CBS 17 where students at Glenn Elementary are having to learn in classrooms in trailers because they ran out of space in the current school buildings.
“By far the largest part of the bond is going to be the repairs to our buildings,” Mike Lee said, the co-chair of the bonds committee.
Lee said as the student population continues to grow, now is the time for the district to start expanding the schools and making repairs.
“In order to be successful in our school buildings, we have to have buildings where children can learn and be successful in,” Lee said.
While there is support for these bonds, some have spoken up about their concerns about property taxes going up if the bond passes.
Community activists were handing out flyers in Wellons Village in east Durham on Wednesday morning. They were asking for people to vote against the three different education bond proposals.
“We need to know exactly where this money is going,” Sheryl Smith said, a Durham community activist.
Smith argues county leaders and school leaders have not been transparent enough with the community about where exactly each dollar will go.
She also said she does not think now is the time to raise property taxes for Durham residents.
“We can’t just keep passing stuff and giving them all this money,” Smith said. “The only thing we’re getting is pushed out, because we can’t afford to live here.”
James Chavis was also handing out flyers and asking people to vote no on the bonds.
“No officials came out in July when we first heard about this bond referendum to educate us on what it’s representing and how it will benefit the City of Durham,” Chavis said. “We need leadership and the people to come out and explain the bond and give us a chance to ask questions.”
CBS 17 told Lee about these activists’ concerns about the bonds.
Lee said there is plenty of information about the bonds on the website they created about the 2022 education bond referendums.
Lee also said there are plans to hold meetings with the public before they head to the polls in the coming weeks.
“I think every member of Durham County would want to vote for this because our future is in those buildings,” Lee said.
CBS 17 reached out to Durham Tech to find out how the $112.7 million be spent on campus. Durham Tech officials told CBS 17 in an email that the funding would go toward creating high-quality training hubs for the new jobs coming to the Triangle.
For instance, Durham Tech officials said they plan to spend $74 million to expand and consolidate all Allied Health Programs into one building.
Another $35.2 million would be spent on creating a building to house life sciences industry training and education.
Finally, $3.5 million would be used to purchase parcels for the future expansion of the Durham Main Campus.
As for the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, the $14 million in funding will be used to revamp exhibits, renovate the Sprout Café, and to upgrade building infrastructure at the museum.