More than two dozen school districts in “economically distressed” counties will share a $400 million state lottery windfall to replace and repair aging school buildings, the NC Department of Public Instruction announced Tuesday.
The grants are awarded under the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. They will help to build 14 new or replacement school buildings, including four high schools, a Career and Technical Education Center and a pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school.
The grants represent the largest annual allocation under the program, created by the General Assembly in 2017 from state lottery revenues. The grants are in addition to the state’s lottery-supported Public School Building Capital Fund, from which all districts receive an allocation each year.
Last year, the state’s public schools estimated that they need $12.8 billion over the next five years to improve or repair aging school facilities. That was nearly $5 billion more than districts said they needed in 2016.
In a news release, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said the needs-based grants are a key support for districts where local tax resources fall short of needs for modernizing or replacing aging school facilities.
“Just as all students in North Carolina need an excellent teacher in every classroom,” Truitt said. “students and teachers need high quality schools in good repair that help support learning. These needs-based grants are an important boost for many districts and communities – and most importantly, their students.”
Grant awards are capped at maximums of $30 million for a new elementary school, $40 million for a middle school and $50 million for a new high school.
The needs-based grant applications were reviewed by the state Department of Public Instruction based on priorities provided in the law, including ability to generate revenue, high debt-to-tax revenue ratio and the extent to which a project will address critical deficiencies in adequately serving the current and future student population.
Halifax County Schools, one of the districts in the long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit, will receive a $31.27 million award to build a new school.
“We are grateful for the approval of the grant to build a new school in the Eastman area to serve our students,” said Superintendent Eric Cunningham. “This was a dream of our past board member Mrs. Susie Lynch Evans; she worked on these plans for many years; even though she is no longer with us, we are looking forward to moving on with the building plans.”
Mrs. Evans died in January.
Over the last five years, the Needs Based Public School Capital Fund has awarded a total of $739 million dollars to local school districts, providing funding for 60 new K-12 construction projects, including 33 new schools, eight new buildings and the replacement of 44 existing schools.
Districts awarded grants for 2021-22 include:
Alexander County Schools: $1.35 million
Anson County Schools: $9 million
Ashe County Schools: $17 million
Bladen County Schools: $17 million
Camden County Schools: $27.7 million
Carteret County Public Schools: $1.93 million
Newton-Conover City Schools (Catawba County): $22 million
Edenton-Chowan Schools (Chowan County): $25 million
Clay County Schools: $32 million
Cleveland County Schools: $7.8 million
Gates County Schools: $1.78 million
Halifax County Schools: $31.27 million
Hoke County Schools: $30 million
Mooresville Graded School District (Iredell County): $616,000
Mitchell County Schools: $17 million
Montgomery County Schools: $2.65 million
Northampton County Schools: $40 million
Polk County Schools: $1.3 million
Public Schools of Robeson County: $25 million
Clinton City Schools (Sampson County): $899,000
Scotland County Schools: $1.1 million
Mount Airy City Schools (Surry County): $1.75 million
Tyrrell County Schools: $514,000
Warren County Schools: $24 million
Washington County Schools: $40 million
Wayne County Public Schools: $9 million
Yadkin County Schools: $1.44 million
Yancey County Schools: $6.69 million