High school project takes next step forward

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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JACKSON – Northampton County’s Board of Education approved a few items during their meeting on Oct. 9 which relate to the construction of the new high school.

One of those items was an interlocal agreement which was also approved by the county commissioners last month.

That agreement pertains to Sales and Use Tax reimbursement for materials that will be purchased during the school’s construction. Because school boards are not allowed to claim the tax refunds, the agreement will allow the county to receive the money instead.

When discussed during the commissioner’s meeting on Sept. 6, County Attorney Scott McKellar explained that the agreement is a legal mechanism to help the county recoup funds they expended to purchase the land for the project.

The commissioners approved the agreement at their Sept. 18 meeting.

The next step was for the school board to approve as well, which they did unanimously on Oct. 9. Board member Theresa Cade motioned and Tony Burnette provided the second.

“I would like to echo my appreciation for the partnership that we have entered into with the county of Northampton in the construction of our new high school,” said School Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins after the vote. “I think that partnership will bear fruit well into the future for all of the citizens of Northampton County.”

Additionally, the board approved utilizing the “Construction Manager at Risk” method for the school project instead of the more traditional “design-bid-build” model. With this method, the construction manager is selected before the bidding process begins. Advantages include minimizing overruns and changes during construction, increased cost control, more qualified sub-contractors, and more.

The resolution to select the Construction Manager at Risk method was approved by a unanimous vote of the board.

Lastly, the board also considered two change orders for the upcoming construction: a geotechnical subsurface exploration for a cost of $43,450 and the design of a 180,000-gallon water tank for a cost of $87,670.

The exploration will check the soil to ensure it will withstand the load of the building. The water tank was added to be used in case firefighting is required onsite.

Both changes were approved by the board’s Facilities and Finance Committee prior to consideration at the Oct. 9 meeting.

Once again, the item was approved with no opposition amongst the board members.

As previously reported by the News Herald, Northampton County Schools received a $50 million grant last year from the state’s Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund for the construction of a new centrally-located high school. The county commissioners then provided funds to purchase the 63-acre parcel of land located just north of the Jackson town limits on Highway 305.

If the project remains on schedule, construction is expected to begin in December 2024 and conclude June 2026.