To our community,
Since the bond referendum has been placed on the March 3rd ballot, we have heard a recurring question from those in our community who are supportive of our schools but frustrated with the growth: Why aren’t those profiting off of all of the growth in our area responsible, at least in part, for helping with the cost of new schools?
As a citizen of Mooresville, I understand your frustration with the lack of contribution by the developers/builders of the housing communities going up throughout our town and school districts. Unlike many other states, the state of North Carolina does not allow impact fees to be assessed against builders. Unfortunately, it would seem the NC Homebuilders Association has much more pull than we do: https://www.nchba.org/wp/legislative-news/why-not-impact-fees/. This law is outside of Iredell County and the Town of Mooresville's purview, and is certainly beyond MGSD's control. In fact, the North Carolina Supreme Court has weighed in on this issue in a 2016 decision (QUALITY BUILT HOMES V. TOWN OF CARTHAGE). In this case the Town of Carthage, due to extreme growth, passed ordinances allowing impact fees for water and sewer system expansions. The Town cited the Public Enterprise Statutes, N.C.G.S. §§ 160A-311 to -338 as their basis for the ordinance. The builder sued the town and the case made its way to the state Supreme Court who ruled that public enterprise statutes “clearly and unambiguously fail to give [cities] the essential prospective charging power necessary to assess impact fees.”
In North Carolina, the responsibility of building, equipping, and maintaining school facilities is given to our state’s counties; G.S. 115C-408(b) stipulates that public school facility requirements will be met by county governments. More often than not this responsibility is met through School Bonds. While the school district tries to partner with the Town at times, like with facility use agreements for our athletic fields, our performing arts center, etcetera, we are completely separate entities and the Town Government has no fiduciary duty to our school district.
While I will not tell you how to vote, I do hope this response helps you understand the predicament we are in as a school system. We are not allowed to turn a child in our district away. We have to find a way to house them. What we can do and continue to do is work diligently to find the most cost effective way to meet the demands of providing seats for the children in our district. We have attempted to do this by not allowing people from outside of MGSD to choice into our school district. Within our district, we no longer allow choice between our three elementary schools. While our three elementary schools, in addition to our middle school, are all at or over capacity, we made the decision to forego asking our citizens to support both an additional middle school and elementary school. We studied the situation and found that if we can get the additional middle school, we can reconfigure our grades to also free up a bit of space at our elementary schools. We currently have a grade configuration of K - 3 at our three elementary schools, 4 - 6 at our two intermediate schools, 7 - 8 at our one middle schools, and 9 - 12 at our one high school. With two middle schools, we could shift our 6th grade from our two intermediate schools to the middle schools. Then we could shift our third grade to our two intermediate schools. This would make our three elementary schools K-2 schools instead of the current K-3 school configuration. We make all of these decisions with careful deliberation, keeping the interests of our students and community in mind.
We know there is always going to be pushback when asking our community for something like a bond. We want you to make the most informed decision possible. The school district is holding multiple community information meetings to go over our plans and answer questions. We would love for our community to attend one of them. You can also find information on our website at https://www.mgsd.k12.nc.us/community/2020-school-bond. Of course, you can always reach out to us at Central Office, by phone or email.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and giving us the opportunity to address this particular concern.
In your service,
Stephen Mauney, Ed.D.