North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson has announced that $73 million in grant funds from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund will be awarded this year to school districts in Camden, Graham, Hertford, Northampton, Rutherford and Wilson counties. The grant awards will allow for construction of new school buildings in these economically distressed areas.
"This is the third year these funds have been made available to benefit our students and educators who have had to deal with outdated facilities," Johnson said. "These grants will help address our state’s need to replace old, outdated schools with better learning environments. "
Camden County: $10 million to build a new Camden County High School that will also house Camden Early College High School ($33.3 million total project cost).
Graham County: $3.2 million to build an addition to Robbinsville Middle School to house 6th grade and other renovations to the existing middle/high school building space to accommodate the 6th grade addition ($4.2 million total project cost).
Hertford County: $15 million to build a new Ahoskie Elementary School. Features of the new school will include areas that have been designed for the community to utilize for after-hours activities and a drop loop that will utilize the cafeteria as its designated entrance to provide for the availability of morning breakfast for students ($20 million total project cost).
Northampton County: $15 million for a new centrally located Northampton High School adjacent to the county recreation department that would share field, gymnasium and parking with the county facility ($34.7 million total project cost).
Rutherford County: $15 million for a new Rutherford-Spindale Middle School to replace the current 94-year old school building. The new building will provide safety upgrades to implement needed security measures. ($35 million total project cost).
Wilson County: $15 million to expand the Wilson County Schools Early College of Applied Technology Academy, moving the Academy’s high school location from shared space in an existing high school to a new 75,000 square foot facility on the Wilson Community College Technology campus, located on land transferred to the school district. ($20 million total project cost).
The fund was created by the General Assembly to assist school districts in lower-wealth counties through revenue from the North Carolina Education Lottery. Awards are capped at $15 million per project in Tier 1 (most distressed) counties and $10 million per project in Tier 2 counties. The law requires a local match of $1 for every $3 in grant funds in Tier 1 and $1 for every $1 in Tier 2. The fund was created to assist lower-wealth counties with their critical public school building capital needs.
County applications were reviewed based on priorities provided in the law, including ability to generate revenue, high debt-to-tax revenue ratio, and the extent to which a project will address critical deficiencies in adequately serving the current and future student population.
An emphasis was placed on projects that were far enough along in the planning process that construction could begin within 12 months.
"I look forward to seeing these projects get under way in the coming months," said Superintendent Johnson. "I thank the General Assembly for making these funds available to help schools in areas that are most in need."
Over the last three years, the Needs Based Public School Capital Fund has awarded a total of $242 million dollars to local school districts, resulting in 22 new schools or buildings and the replacement of 32 schools. Click here for an infographic that details grants over the last three years.
LOCAL QUOTES FOLLOW
CAMDEN COUNTY"On behalf of the Camden County Schools Board of Education and our students, staff, and community, we are grateful for this grant funding that will allow us to move forward with our planning for a replacement high school that will serve many generations of Camden County families well into the future. Thank you to Mr. Johnson and others for making this opportunity available."
Joe Ferrell, Ed.D.
Camden County Schools
GRAHAM COUNTY"Receiving this grant is an amazing forward step in meeting the needs of our students. This grant will be instrumental in moving our 6th graders to the middle school building where they can be more closely aligned with curriculum and their peers. Additionally, then we can open up much needed space at the elementary campus to meet class size requirements. In a rural county like Graham, this grant assists in leveling the playing field for our students. I also appreciate the partnership that we have with our County Commissioners to match the funding." Angela Knight
Graham County Schools
HERTFORD COUNTY"On behalf of and in conjunction with the Hertford County Board of Education, the Hertford County Commissioners, and the entire Hertford County School District, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Johnson and members of his staff for granting us the award for the construction of a new Ahoskie Elementary School. The new Ahoskie Elementary School will be replacing a structure that is celebrating its 66th Anniversary currently. We are ecstatic that the State Superintendent has heard the voices of many and has joined us in being "All-In For Learning"! We look forward to using the funding to enhance a sound, quality education for the students of Hertford County Public Schools! This is another MAJOR step towards our efforts to make our school district better every day!!!!" Dr. William T. Wright, Jr.
Hertford County Public Schools
NORTHAMPTON COUNTY"On behalf of the Northampton County Board of Education and the citizens, we are elated to be the recipients of such a phenomenal grant opportunity. Words cannot convey the sheer excitement we feel as we make plans for the future of Northampton County Schools." Dr. Pamela Chamblee
Northampton County Schools
RUTHERFORD COUNTY"Despite a prolonged period of significant economic distress within our community, the Rutherford County Board of Education and Board of County Commissioners have prioritized education and worked closely together to identify and pursue solutions to pressing local school capital facility needs in recent years. This $15 million award through the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund will play a pivotal role in advancing that important work by providing critical funding for the replacement of R-S Middle School as it approaches 100 years in age. We are grateful to the North Carolina General Assembly and North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for investing in our community and for helping us to ensure that our students benefit from safe, modern education facilities as they prepare for college and career success." Dr. David M. Sutton
Rutherford County Schools
WILSON COUNTY"Securing this funding represents the power of partnerships," said Wilson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lane Mills. "I am so appreciative of the support from the Wilson County Commissioners, Wilson Community College, Wilson Community College Foundation and all of the industry leaders who serve on the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology (WAAT) Advisory Board. This is a great day for WAAT, Wilson County Schools and for Wilson County. I am excited for the students and staff at WAAT who are going to benefit greatly from a state-of-the-art facility on the campus of Wilson Community College. This facility will also benefit students at the community college who will have access to lab space and other resources. WAAT has seen tremendous success since it opened in the fall of 2016, and I believe moving into a new building with more space that the students and staff can call their own is going to take the program to new heights. I am especially proud of and excited for Principal Krystal Cox who has been instrumental in WAAT's success from the very beginning. We are looking forward to getting started on construction and are grateful we were eligible for this funding from the state." Dr. Lane Mills
Wilson County Schools
"We congratulate Wilson County Schools and are excited to support the new Wilson Academy of Applied Technology (WAAT) facility. We value Wilson County School students and we know investing in them is an investment in our county’s future." Denise Stinagle
Wilson County Manager