EDUCATION ISSUES IN ONSLOW COUNTY
Onslow County Schools contend with some of the same issues that schools across the state and country face.
Here are a few of the issues we face locally in education.
Class Size Reductions
The State Legislature has been funding lower class sizes since 2014, but school districts have been getting waivers on class sizes. In 2017, the Legislature enacted legislation to bring school districts into compliance with the funding levels they have provided.
Onslow County Schools has a sustained growth rate of about 300 students a year and we do not have enough classroom spaces. The school district has implemented school redistricting to alleviate overcrowding, but the long term solution is additional school construction. Preliminary student enrollment data for school year 2018-2019 already shows 561 more students over the same second day enrollment numbers for 2017-2018.
Aging Schools and Facilities
Many of Onslow County Schools were built several years ago and were not designed for today's technology and are not energy efficient. The school district built a new Dixon Middle School that opened for school year 2017-2018 and a new Richlands Elementary School that opened for school year 2018-2019. The school district has selected an architect for the next two school construction projects, based on the Richlands Elementary School design. These elementary schools are expected to be completed for school year 2021-2022 in the Stump Sound and Catherine Lake areas.
Temporary Mobile Classrooms
Onslow County Schools has over 200 temporary mobile classrooms in use at campuses thoughout the county. Mobile classrooms are not as conducive for learning as traditional classrooms and are more difficult to secure. The district may have to add an additonal fourteen mobile classrooms to comply with the class size reductions.
Military Impacted Schools
We have a large percentage of students who are connected to the military and a large turnover of these students. A number of our teachers are also related to military members and this results in a constant search for new teachers.
Low Performing Schools
Onslow County Schools include some low performing schools impacted by the social economic environment where the students live. School districts struggle with the formula that is used to rate schools and the excessive testing done each year.
Career Technical Education
Onslow County Schools have fallen behind in providing technical education courses at all their high schools. The construction and automotive industries have a huge demand for students graduating with the skills needed to get employed. Onslow Schools has partnered with Duplin and Jones Counties to provide technical education training at a 55,000 square foot Southeast Technical Career Center in Burton Park. Unfortunately, construction delays will prevent the building from being completed until 2019.
Finance and Budget
The school system budget system is complicated, convoluted, and involves multiple funding sources. The local expense budget from the County Commissioners is the least complicated source of funds and relys on a formula based upon the number of students in the school system multiplied by the state average per pupil funding. The state funding system is cumbersome and overly complicated.