New school in Hertford County?

Published 9:52 am Monday, June 27, 2016

WINTON – It’s been a topic of on-and-off discussion for at least the past decade…or two.

Now, the “public record” shows an official movement to replace the aging Ahoskie Elementary School.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, David Shields and J. Wendell Hall, respectively the chairman and vice-chairman of the county’s Board of Education, were in attendance to advise the commissioners on a few year-end maintenance projects that require county funds.

It was during his presentation to the commissioners that Shields spoke of a letter he had received from Commission Chairman Ronald Gatling about opening up dialogue between the two boards about building a new school.

“What we, the Board of Education, had talked about on our end was that we do not want to overbuild,” Shields said. “So, what we’ve done is contact Dr. Ben Matthews of DPI (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction) and he will come to us next month and perform a complete facilities analysis. That way we’ll know exactly what we need to build. Then we (the two boards) can talk more about the possibility of replacing Ahoskie Elementary School.”

Shields also addressed the need for capital outlay funds from the county for a trio of projects. He said the Board of Education had requested the county expend approximately $49,000 of capital improvement funds designated for use by the school system.

The School Board Chairman said roughly $25,000 was needed to replace the gym floor at Riverview Elementary School in Murfreesboro.

“The floor we had in there was great, but because Riverview is for kindergarten through sixth grade students, there’s a need for a rubberized (gym) floor for safety reasons,” Shields said. “We were told we had to do that (replace the floor) to accommodate the safety of the students there.”

He added that two HVAC compressors had to be replaced at Hertford County Middle School.

“There are three compressors there and two of them went down, meaning a large part of that building was without air conditioning,” Shields noted. “We tried to get that done as quickly as possible.”

Another capital outlay project involved the installation of security cameras at the HCPS Central Office in Winton.

“That has already helped us with one situation there,” Shields said.

He said funds were also needed to complete a restroom renovation project at Hertford County High School.

“Of all the projects I’ve mentioned, that one (the HCHS restrooms) isn’t as pressing as the others,” Shields stated.

He said the School Board realized that these funds might be temporarily delayed arriving from the county since the requests were coming near the close of the current fiscal year (which ends June 30).

“I know; it’s year-end…the same thing happens to us with the school system; you tend to delay some things to make sure the money budgeted last July makes it all the way to the end of June,” Shields remarked. “We had sent these requests on June 1, thinking that would give enough time to have these funds encumbered. They will be encumbered in our 2015-16 budget, and we didn’t want them to be in ya’ll’s 2016-17 budget because then it will appear that our (financial) books do not jive.”

Chairman Gatling agreed with Shields on first performing a feasibility study on the proposed new Ahoskie Elementary School. He added that the capital outlay funding requests mentioned by Shields had been processed and the money was on its way.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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