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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2015 12:00 pm

BEAUFORT — School officials will soon break ground on a major addition at White Oak Elementary, along with improvements to several other schools but not Croatan High, as county commissioners took the first steps Monday toward approving the sale of $4.5 million in general obligation bonds for the school system. 

Commissioners acted unanimously at their April meeting in the administration building, directing staff to begin processing the sale of less than half of the total $9.7 million in 2005 voter-approved school bonds still available to the county. 

“I kind of went through and looked at what I felt like were acute situations … money (that) was going to have to be spent in the very near future,” County Chairman Robin Comer said of improvements at school facilities. “This is a great way to fund these projects now.”

Plans approved under Monday’s bond measure do not include the classroom addition sought by the school board to address overcrowding at Croatan High. 

That expansion was proposed to county commissioners at $3.6 million, well within the remaining $5.2 million of authorized bond money. 

With the action, staff will proceed with readying a formal bond order to likely appear before commissioners in late summer, according to County Finance Director Dee Meshaw. 

“The bonds themselves won’t be sold until October,” she said Wednesday. “We’ll need formal action by the board, probably in August, to approve the bond order, which will set the final amount and date of the sale.”

Interest rates will be set at the time of sale and are expected in at less than 3 percent. 

The school system can begin the process of readying for major construction and beginning preliminary planning in the interim, however, she confirmed. She said she believes the funds will be finalized and in place for the projects by the end of the year. 

School officials said they are ready to move forward with capital facilities improvements. 

“We’re really excited about the project at White Oak Elementary,” Superintendent Dr. Dan Novey said. “That project will hold them over for a while.”

White Oak’s project constitutes a majority of the funding, with a 10-classroom addition expected in at $2.5 million. 

The school will also see their 500 building, which includes classrooms, bathrooms and storage space, remodeled under the plan brought forward by Mr. Comer. The work will usurp $550,000 in bond funds. 

“White Oak has an acute situation on population, they’re running about 18 percent over (capacity,)” he said. “That school is about 50 years old, and it was built at a time when there was no elbow room to start with.”

Walkways, canopies and building connectors will also be enclosed, at an estimated cost of $150,000.

Improvements for West Carteret High School include chiller replacement, water line work, gym improvements and new flooring for the school’s stage, all expected to bill in around $405,000.

Both East and West Carteret High schools will get new bleachers to the tune of $144,000 per school, according to the plan. 

An additional $45,000 was earmarked to replace and update technology fiber, and buildings at four schools will get new roofs for an estimated  $556,665.

Commissioner Mark Mansfield, who served on the school board prior to his seat as a commissioner, was not present for the meeting Monday because of a work-related engagement. None of the other five commissioners offered discussion on the topic.

Dr. Novey said Wednesday that school officials look forward to proceeding soon. 

“We have a checkered flag we’d like to drop as soon as possible and make it a sprint race,” he said, noting that he would like to see the construction concluded by September 2016. 

“Who knows if that can be done? ... We will have a timeline that is aggressive but also realistic,” he said. 

The board previously explored needs at Croatan High, but bond funding for an addition there was absent from Monday’s proposal. 

“Obviously we’re still very concerned with the overcrowding at Croatan and had hoped they would’ve addressed that, but we’re pleased with what they approved,” Dr. Novey said.

The school board proposed a new wing at Croatan High, making 12-14 new classrooms available to alleviate congestion due to growing population in the western end of the county.

Mr. Comer gave no indication Wednesday on why the board did not move forward with selling bonds for the project. 

“I don’t know that we’ve decided against it, but it’s not for this bond money,” Mr. Comer told the News-Times. “They gave us a litany of items to review, and we’ve decided what we want to do with them.”

If commissioners were to change their minds on the classroom addition, they would have to act fast. The 2005 bonds expire Thursday, Nov. 5, and Ms. Meshaw estimates the board only has until June at the very latest to make any further indication for their use. 

Contact Jackie Starkey at 726-7081, ext. 232; email jackie@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.   

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5 comments:

  • RSW posted at 5:13 pm on Wed, Apr 29, 2015.

    RSW Posts: 6

    Why not redraw boundries

     
  • Mark Eadie posted at 3:50 pm on Sun, Apr 26, 2015.

    Mark Eadie Posts: 17

    When I go to West Carteret Football games there is never enough seating. When they play County rivals or Havelock there are more people standing then those who can get a seat.

     
  • morehood city res posted at 11:16 am on Sun, Apr 26, 2015.

    morehood city res Posts: 536

    what about all this money from the NCs education lottery? wasn't that supposed to go towards schools and education? why do our government officials have to be so ignorant?

     
  • Osprey posted at 4:15 pm on Fri, Apr 24, 2015.

    Osprey Posts: 658

    $288000 for new bleachers? I have been at both schools within the past month and the bleachers seem fine. How about using those funds for classroom materials and educational needs.

     
  • Osprey posted at 4:11 pm on Fri, Apr 24, 2015.

    Osprey Posts: 658

    If you give it Novey will $pend it.

     

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