The Johnston County Board of Commissioners last week OK’d the purchase of land for a new middle school in the Cleveland community.
The land is near the intersection of Norris and Lee roads; that’s north of Cleveland Road and east of Barber Mill Road. School board chairman Larry Strickland said the school system plans to break ground as soon as possible.
The board of education has an option to buy up to 45 acres for $660,000 but might be able to fit the campus on 40 acres and save $42,000, Strickland said. The per-acre price is significantly less than the average for the last six Cleveland community schools, Strickland said. It’s also well under the $750,000 the schools earmarked for the land in the bond referendum voters approved in 2013.
Construction is budgeted at $19.1 million, said schools spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones said. Johnston will borrow that money in the first half of 2016.
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The land not only comes a good price, Strickland said, it also lies right in the middle of the proposed attendance district for the new school.
“We looked at 13 different sites, and we zeroed in on this one because it is dead on the bull’s-eye,” Strickland said.
The county will need to lay 7,300 linear feet of pipe to extend water and sewer service to the site, Strickland said. Early estimates show that work costing up to $580,000, he said, though the superintendent’s staff is working to bring that number down. Funding for the lines will come from the bonds.
The back of the property slopes steeply downward, and the front is high, said Patrick Jacobs, the school system’s chief operations officer. That means the site will require grading, but that should not carry any significant extra cost.
All in all, Jacobs said, the architect and engineer hired by the school system have deemed the site “very ideal.”
Once commissioners signed off on the land deal, Strickland thanked them for having such a good relationship with the school board. Commissioner Cookie Pope said both boards should also value the confidence that Johnston voters have placed in their leadership.
“They have been very generous with respect to the bond issues, and they’ve always approved them,” she said.