Nine North Carolina school districts stretching from Hyde County in the east to Cherokee County in the west will share more than $300 million in new state lottery-funded grant awards for school construction, renovation projects, and other capital improvements.
Among the projects to be funded by the grants, aimed at districts in economically distressed counties, are seven new or replacement school buildings, including three high schools, two schools combining middle and high school grades, an intermediate school for upper elementary and middle school grades and a Career and Technical Education Center. Some of these districts receiving the grants were hardest hit by natural disasters like flooding and an earthquake.
Several of the new schools will replace at least two existing schools with combined facilities.
In all, the Department of Public Instruction received 164 grant applications from 72 districts across the state totaling more than $2.4 billon.
The grants, awarded under the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund, are in addition to the state’s two other lottery-supported capital funds - the Public School Building Capital Fund and the Public School Building Repair and Renovation Fund - from which all 115 districts in North Carolina receive allocations each year.
Eighteen other school districts that were awarded grants last year from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund are receiving directed grants from the program totaling $134.8 million approved by the General Assembly as part of the 2022-23 state budget. These 18 districts had received 80% of their initial request, and the additional funds represent the 20% difference.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said the needs-based grants are helping districts across North Carolina with fewer local resources ensure that all students benefit from the best possible learning environments.
“Many students in North Carolina attend schools built decades ago,” Truitt said. “These grants are paying for schools designed and built for the 21st century. Today’s students, regardless of where they live and attend school, deserve nothing less.”
Robert Taylor, deputy state superintendent for School and Student Advancement, said that with the nearly $400 million awarded this past spring to 28 school districts, and the more than $300 million to an additional nine districts today, the state has surpassed a billion dollars in funding for improvements to school facilities in recent years.
“As a former superintendent of a rural school district, I know how important these dollars are to the communities receiving them,” Taylor said. “It’s an investment by the state that will pay dividends into the future for many thousands of students and educators.”
Awards are capped at maximums of $30 million for an elementary school project, $40 million for a middle school project and $50 million for a high school project.
Grant applications were reviewed by the Department of Public Instruction in accordance with priorities provided in the law, including ability to generate revenue, high debt-to-tax revenue ratio, consolidation and replacement of multiple existing facilities, and the extent to which a project will address critical deficiencies in adequately serving the current and future student population.
Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery, said a substantial portion of the money raised by the lottery this year will help build new schools and repair older ones.
“It’s great that our state lottery proceeds make this $300 million investment in new schools possible,” said Michalko. “These new schools will serve families and their children for years to come and we look forward to seeing them opening soon.”
Over the last six years, the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund has awarded a total of nearly $1.2 billion dollars to local school districts, providing funding for 69 new K-12 construction projects, including 39 new schools, 10 new buildings, and the replacement of 55 existing schools.
Districts awarded grants for fiscal year 2022-23:
- Alleghany County / Alleghany County Schools – $47 million – New 9-12 high school – Replaces the district’s one existing high school
- Cherokee County / Cherokee County Schools – $50 million – New 9-12 high school – Replaces three existing high schools
- Gates County / Gates County Schools – $9.8 million – Gates County High School – additions and renovations
- Greene County / Greene County Schools – $50 million – New high school – replaces the district’s one existing high school
- Halifax County / Weldon City Schools – $50 million – New 6-12 school – replaces two existing schools
- Hyde County / Hyde County Schools – $8.3 million – Mattamuskeet PK-12 school – additions and renovations
- Pamlico County / Pamlico County Schools – $50 million – New 6-12 school – replaces two existing schools
- Perquimans County / Perquimans County Schools – $36.9 million – New 3-8 intermediate school – replaces two existing schools
- Tyrrell County / Tyrrell County Schools – $350,000 – New CTE (Career Technical Education) center – Serves the high school and early college