High School lease approved

Published 11:54 am Friday, October 5, 2012

WINDSOR – The two entities have approved a lease.

Monday the Bertie County Commissioners executed the lease agreement between themselves and the Bertie County Board of Education for the new high school to be built on U.S. 13.

Tuesday night, the school board ratified the same agreement, leaving no doubt as to the future of the project.

During the meeting of the commissioners, Assistant Board Attorney Jonathan Huddleston presented the lease for the board to approve. He said the two boards needed a lease agreement as the next step to move forward with building the new $21.9 million facility.

The lease gives the school board all standard rights to the school building.

Huddleston said the only change in the original contract was a sentence added in Section 5 titled Use and Maintenance of the Site by School Board Attorney Rod Malone.

The added statement said, “Notwithstanding the above, the County and Board of Education acknowledge that the County is responsible for providing the Board of Education funding for capital outlay projects.”

Commissioner Norman M. Cherry said he didn’t see the need for the addition.

“That is something we do anyway, so why do we need to make it part of the lease agreement,” Cherry asked.

Huddleston said he didn’t see any need to add it as the commissioners were bound legally to provide capital outlay funding. He added, however, that neither he nor County Attorney Lloyd Smith objected to the language because it was something the board already handled.

Commissioner Rick Harrell said he wasn’t sure the statement needed to be included either, but that he was okay with it as long as it was approved by the attorneys.

Cherry made the motion to accept the lease agreement with Commissioner Charles L. Smith offering a second. It passed by a 4-0 vote with Commission Vice Chairman J. Wallace Perry absent.

The next night the school board took up the same matter.

“When the county is borrowing money rather compared to a bond referendum to build you a school, the county has to put a Deed of Trust on the building just like you do,” Malone said. “Commonly what happens is they will turn around and lease the building to the school system for some long period of time.

“The lease, in essence, gives you all the rights you would have if you owned the building except you’re not the owner,” he added. “These are pretty common across the state.”

Malone said the lease was one of the better ones his office reviewed across the state and said he made only one minor change.

Board Vice Chair Emma Johnson then moved to approve the lease it passed unanimously.