• 68°

One more time

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved an application for the Needs Based Public School Capital Fund during their regular meeting here Aug. 20.

Earlier in the day, the Commissioners briefly met with the county’s Board of Education to discuss the details of the grant application—which must be signed by both boards—so the only thing left to do afterwards was to officially gain approval from the Commissioners to send in the grant.

Northampton County Schools Assistant Superintendent Doug Miller presented the request, stating the grant money, if received, would be used for constructing a new centrally-located high school. This has been a goal the school system has been working towards for the past few years.

The Needs Based Public School Capital Fund was first initiated by the NC General Assembly last year with money from State Education Lottery proceeds, and its purpose is to provide assistance to low-wealth counties designated Tier One or Tier Two to address critical public school building capital needs.

This funding can only be used for the construction of new school buildings.

A total of $117 million is available in funding throughout North Carolina this year, and the maximum amount an applicant is able to receive will remain capped at $15 million. For Tier One counties, which includes Northampton, a local match of $1 for every $3 in grant funds is required.

Northampton County Schools applied for the full $15 million last year but walked away empty-handed.

If awarded this year, however, the school system would move forward in their plans. The new high school would be designed for 350 students (400 student core) and would be located near the county’s recreation department in Jackson in order to share facilities such as athletic fields. Construction is estimated to begin in late 2019.

As stated in their application, this project would be able to cut down on the time students travel on the bus each day. Some students currently must ride the bus for more than 1.5 hours (one way) to attend the high school, formerly known as Northampton County High School West, located in Gaston. The long commutes discourage students from participating in things like after-school remediation.

The new school would also be able to provide additional benefits such as upgrading technology to current DPI standards and reducing operating costs.

Commissioner Charles Tyner motioned to approve the application, and Commissioner Geneva Faulkner seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

Applications are due August 31. Grant recipients will be announced by September 30.