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Bertie High targeted for #036;2 million renovation

WINDSOR – A recent round of state QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds) funding will apparently benefit Bertie High School.

In their meeting here yesterday (Monday) morning, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners approved two resolutions that will pave the way for $2 million in much-needed renovations to the 40-plus-year-old high school.

In his presentation to the commissioners, Bertie Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Priddy suggested the $2 million be applied to install a new roof and for new heating and cooling units at Bertie High.

“The high school is not in very good shape,” Dr. Priddy said. “The question becomes do we replace it or improve it?”

The discussion then turned towards the possibility of a statewide school bond referendum, if not on the ballot this year, it may be one year from now. However, even if a referendum is approved by the voters across the state, it’s doubtful that Bertie County would receive much more than the $12.8 million approved during the last school bond measure. As a matter of fact, as County Manager Zee Lamb pointed out, there’s a movement afoot where Bertie County would receive much less funding.

“Even with the school bond, I don’t see the availability of $30 million (the estimated price tag for a new high school) next year,” Dr. Priddy stressed. “But what about five years from now….perhaps seven years from now? That’s what we don’t know.”

Dr. Priddy went on to recommend the county use its new QZAB money at Bertie High School. There, he said, the top priority is replacing the roof.

“I would like to see a new roof on the high school similar to the pitch roof on the middle school (currently under construction across from the high school),” Dr. Priddy said.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Rick Harrell inquired of the cost, to which $12-to-$14 per square foot was estimated.

“I would hope there would be money left over to address the other needs at the high school,” Harrell said.

Priddy responded by saying the second priority would be replacing the old heating and cooling units.

Currently, Bertie County is paying $212,000 annually (over a 15-year period) for $4 million worth of QZAB funds obtained in 2003 used for renovations to six elementary schools. Lamb said the newest funds would cost the county $100,000 per year over 15 years.

Lamb said the county’s timetable to move forward on the issue is from now through Dec. 31, 2007. He said for the project to move forward, with the commissioner’s approval, there would need to be an architect’s analysis, putting the construction costs out for bids and obtaining proposals from banks to purchase the bonds.

Lamb added that the $2 million could be placed in an interest-bearing account where it could earn $300 per day until construction began. He said the money generated from the interest could be placed back into the project and used for renovations.

Dr. Priddy assured the commissioners that the Bertie Board of Education was ready to move forward with the project. That board was scheduled to discuss the project at their scheduled meeting last night (Monday).