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Weather delays are minor on new school

JACKSON – The consolidation of two Northampton County elementary schools is proceeding.

Construction is well underway on a new elementary school just over two miles outside of Jackson, which will replace two of the aging schools in the district. The schools that will close are Jackson-Eastside Elementary and Seaboard-Coates Elementary.

The school district broke ground in June on the new site for the school and construction began shortly afterwards.

Last week, construction manager Will Gautier said the progress on the school was roughly a week and a half behind schedule, but said it was to be expected during this time of year because of the weather.

Northampton County Schools’ Assistant Superintendent Phil Matthews, who is overseeing his sixth construction project for the district, said getting steel to the site had been a major issue.

&uot;We’ve been reporting to the Board that lack of steel was a problem for the past few months,&uot; Matthews said. &uot;That has contributed to the project being a little behind schedule.&uot;

Last week, Matthews got the welcomed news that the remainder of the steel had reached the site.

Matthews said with the steel now onsite, the construction process would pick up and he hoped they would be back on schedule soon.

Matthews has been busy with several projects relating to the school of late. He has led the effort to name the new school, choose colors for the building and to help formulate a plan for disposal of the two old sites.

In December’s meeting of the Northampton County Board of Education, Matthews presented a plan to name the school.

From a list of 21 possibilities, three were chosen as the finalists for the school. Central Elementary School, which got the most votes from the committee, was chosen from a poll of parents along with Jackson-Seaboard Elementary School and Coates-Eastside Elementary School.

Others considered by the committee included Pleasant Grove Elementary, Unity Elementary and Northampton Central Elementary.

A total of 1,084 votes were cast in the selection of the name – 571 by ballot and another 513 on the internet – to select a recommendation to come to the board.

Those voting overwhelmingly chose Central Elementary School as 664 people or 61 percent selected that name. Jackson-Seaboard was second with 229 votes or 21 percent with Coates-Eastside getting 191 votes or 18 percent.

&uot;I was very pleased with the number of people who participated,&uot; Matthews told the Board.

Board member Grace Edwards made the motion to dub the new school Central Elementary with Board member Lafayette Majette offering a second. It passed by a unanimous vote.

Also approved was the color selection for the interior of Central Elementary. A committee of parents, community members, county leaders and staff members sat together to present the recommendation to the Board. It also passed by a unanimous vote.

William Ivey Long has approached the Board about purchasing the Seaboard-Coates property for a factory he is planning to supply uniforms for Carolina Crossroads, an entertainment center near Roanoke Rapids, but the Board tabled action on the proposal.

Board member Roland Whitted wanted a comprehensive plan for disposal of the two sites before voting on what to do with a single site.