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Overcrowded Johnston Co. schools see little relief

March 12, 2008 10:30:11 AM PDT
Two years after opening West Johnston High School in 2002 it was at capacity. Tuesday the student population continues to grow.

"We are at 2150 students at this school that's built for 1650," Assistant Principal Chad Jewett told Eyewitness News.

Every teachable space is taken. All the freshmen are packed into 19 mobile units that sit on what was supposed to a student parking lot.

"We're just over 600 freshmen," Jewett said. "Just getting to know them and building the relationships that's important for school is very tough."

It's a concern shared by teachers and parents

Melinda Honeycutt teaches Biology and has a rising 9th grade daughter. "As a parent next year I will have a daughter coming up as a freshman and a niece that will be a freshman. I'm concerned about the size of the classrooms and that they get the best education. With the staff we have here, I'm sure they will but it's hard."

Other high schools are crammed too.

Clayton just added a ninth grade building to its campus.

And next year Princeton will no longer be K-12. It will serve 6th through 12th graders instead.

Elementary students will go to the new Princeton Elementary School. Other youngsters will go to Powhatan Elementary that'll open next year too. That school will help relieve an overcrowded East Clayton Elementary.

It has more than a thousand students while the building was designed to hold around 700. The campus has what teachers call "The Mobile Village," thirty mobile classrooms that take up nearly as much land as the school itself.

At today's school board meeting members were expected to talk about drawing boundaries for the new schools, naming principals and adding bus routes.

The growth in Johnston County doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon.

Signs for new neighborhoods are everywhere.

Both Jewett and Honeycutt say a lot of people are attracted to Johnston County because of the affordable housing and the quick commute on Interstate 40 to Research Triangle Park. Both agree they need more schools.

"They're talking about two new high schools opening in 2010," Jewett said. "We will welcome them with open arms at West Johnston because of the number of students that we have." And the number of others on the way.


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