Residents in the northern sector of Sevier County will have to wait at least four years for a new middle school to be built.

The district simply doesn't have enough money, and a bond election at the present time is out of the picture, according to Superintendent Brent Thorne. He admitted a new school is needed in Salina and that it's high on the district's building priority list."The only thing that is stopping us is inadequate funds," Thorne said.

Bonding won't be considered for several years, however. After a presentation by Dennis Sperry as spokesman for the parents, the group was told to begin efforts now to educate the public about the need and to seek voter support.

The superintendent explained that the district refinanced its bonds to obtain a lower interest rate and that part of that agreement was not to enter into another bonding program for a specified amount of years. "We cannot bond for any new buildings for at least four years and we will need the voters in the county to support and approve a bond election to obtain funds to construct the middle school," he said.

North Sevier Middle School students and the staff occupy a former high school building.

Former Board President Jerold Johnson noted that five years ago the board sought support through bonding twice to finance technology equipment in the schools. The proposition was rejected both times and board members were, in essence, asked by the taxpayers "What part of `no' don't you understand?" he said.

But Sperry said the group believes there would be voter support for a new middle school. "Technology doesn't have the same priority as the lives of our children," he said. "Safety is a different ball game."

Board member Linda Ogden of Richfield said that area has building needs, too. She added that financing through a successful bond election four years from now might provide the money needed for building construction in both areas of the county.

Meanwhile, district officials plan improvements at the North Sevier Middle School during the interim until the money for a new building is available.

"Maintenance work has already been scheduled this summer," said Samuel D. Ware, the district's administrator of business affairs. "The boiler will be rebuilt, roofing repairs will be completed, new lights and ballasts, new heating and ventilating controls and new carpet will be installed," he said.