With two new elementary school projects heading towards construction, the Harnett County Schools Board of Education plans to keep addressing potential overcrowding.
Board member Eddie Jaggers, a Western Harnett alum, would like to see HCS focus its attention towards a possible middle and high school around Lillington. As the population in the western part of the county continues to expand, Jaggers told board members it’s just a matter of time until possible overcrowding becomes a problem.
“We’re making some ground by getting the two elementary schools built,” Jaggers said during Monday night’s board meeting. “But if we don’t keep going in this direction, we’re going to get further and further behind.”
Growing up, Jaggers said it wasn’t uncommon for children who lived in the same neighborhood to attend different schools, with some going to Harnett Central and some going to Western Harnett. He feels a new middle and high school in the Lillington area could address that.
“To me, we were living in the same neighborhood,” Jaggers said. “Those kids always socialized together because they’re on the same side of the county. I think we need to look at pushing forward with a Lillington high school but we need the numbers to know where we need to place it. We need the numbers to know if it’s more feasible to shift from Lillington back to western Harnett.”
Jaggers recommended using Office of Research and Economic Development to conduct a study of the area similar to the process used when planning the new elementary schools. HCS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Fleming said he can request high school segment maps from the office and that he already has had discussions with County Manager Paula Stewart about potential lots for future developments.
“We’re looking at land southwest of Lillington, somewhere between [N.C.] Highway 210 and [U.S.] Highway 401,” Fleming said. “We have to get an idea of what it looks like in terms of the number of students and where they live around Lillington heading towards the west side of the county.”
Board member Bill Morris requested a redistricting map of the Flat Branch area in an effort to determine a possible location.
“They may shine an initial light to get started,” Morris said. “I think you’ll find that’s where you end up if you try to balance what you got for a high school and middle school in that region.”
Board member Vivian Bennett said she wants HCS to continue tackling any overcrowding concerns.
“We stopped in the middle of it before,” Bennett said. “We should continue to work with ORED and get this addressed.”
Jaggers feels any overcrowding in elementary schools will only make its way up the ladder.
“If we’re overcrowded in the elementary school, we’re going to be overcrowded in the middle and high school,” Jaggers said. “When we make that move I want to be able to sit there and say that by building this school here we’re going to do away with overcrowding at Harnett Central.”
Benhaven Elementary opened last school year and the Erwin Elementary project is underway.