Northampton School Board approves contract to design new high school

Published 5:17 pm Friday, January 13, 2023

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JACKSON – With a unanimous vote, the Northampton County Board of Education approved a contract for design services at their regular meeting on Jan. 9. The move is another step forward in the long-awaited plan to construct a new high school.

Northampton Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins presented a brief summary of the contract with RATIO Architect, which will total $2,615,262 for their services.

“The contract covers all the needed design services for a building with a construction contract award price of $43,587,700,” Atkins explained.

In addition to the contract and construction costs, the total cost projection also includes $3,784,773 in “soft costs” that include contingency, furnishings and equipment, testing, surveying, and inspections.

Atkins noted that the design for the new high school will not include vocational teaching areas or an auditorium, but those features could be added into the project in the future if additional funding is secured.

Overall, the total cost for the new school project is expected to equal $49,987,735.

Last year, the district applied for a grant from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund (NBPSCF), a program originally created by the NC General Assembly in 2017 to use state lottery revenues to help address critical school facility needs. In previous years, other local districts including Gates County and Hertford County have received NBPSCF dollars to be used for school renovations or new school construction.

Northampton County Schools’ goal at the time of the application would be to secure enough funding – approximately $75 million – to construct a new centrally-located combined school which would house grades 6-12. They ultimately fell short of that goal, but still received money from the NBPSCF program to be used for a new high school.

Their initial award in May 2022 was $39,992,730. That was followed by an additional NBPSCF allocation of $9,998,182 through a state budget amendment in July 2022, bringing the full grant amount up to $49,990,912.

With the board’s approval of the RATIO Architect contract, the projected costs for constructing a new high school fall just under the total grant award amount that Northampton County received.

According to the contract, the school will be designed for an enrollment of 325-375 students, and will have an approximate square footage of 86,177 sq. ft. The expectation is that the school will be built on a more centrally-located site in the county than the current high school’s location. A projected timeline stated that construction should begin in August 2024 and have a completion date of June 2026.

The vote for the contract with RATIO Architect was unanimously in favor after a motion to approve from Board member Dr. Marjorie Edwards, and a second by Board member Clinton Williams.

“I am happy to have this item on our agenda,” said Williams about the project. “We’ve been working on this item for a lot of years in Northampton County. At no cost to our taxpayers, we are embarking upon building a new centrally-located state-of-the-art high school.”