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LGC ‘green lights’ Bertie High School project

WINDSOR – Members of the Bertie County Board of Education were in a celebratory mood Tuesday night.

During their regular meeting, Vice Chair Emma Johnson and board member Alton Parker made the announcement that the Local Government Commission unanimously approved the county borrowing money for the construction of a new high school.

“Just before the meeting we arrived from Raleigh,” Johnson said. “At first we thought we wouldn’t get back for this meeting, but as it happened God stepped in. We met with the LGC board, which has to approve our bonds to build the new Bertie High School.

“I haven’t stopped smiling yet,” she continued. “Within five minutes after they got to our materials they had approved it.”

Parker said he was also happy about the outcome of the meeting.

“We do appreciate everybody that went from the commissioners to the board members,” Parker said.  “It was a pleasure when the lady asked if there were any objections and the motion was presented to accept and all voted for it. We are in business for new high school.”

Interim Bertie County Schools Superintendent Elaine White added, “There was a song some years ago that said run and tell that.”

The news was met with a round of applause from the audience.

The approval from the LGC will allow the Bertie County Commissioners to move forward with borrowing $21.9 million to build a new high school. The board approved the building of the school last month, but needed the permission of the Local Government Commission to borrow the funds.

The approved version of the high school includes two alternative proposals, a 12-classroom addition and an auditorium.

The majority of the funding will come in selling the Qualified School Construction Bonds in the amount of just over $18 million. The rest will come from borrowing of nearly $3.9 million, which is tax exempt.

The financing calls for a 20-year structured principal with an interest rate of five percent. The federal subsidy for the school construction bonds is currently at 4.1 percent.

Davenport and Company, the county’s financial agent, expects a total of $23.7 million in net debt on the project.

According to the projections, the total will be reflected in a roughly nine cent impact on the tax rate for Bertie County citizens. The first suggested increase is next year when the first 7.9 cents may be put in place with the balance coming a year later.

The commissioners and school board have been working toward building the high school for roughly a year. The current Bertie High School is more than five decades old and has been the subject of replacement talks for more than 10 years.