The Pulse

More ‘low wealth’ school districts to receive state lottery money for construction, renovations

By: - September 21, 2022 4:30 pm

Nine school districts have hit the jackpot and will share $300 million in state lottery money for school construction, renovation projects and other capital improvements, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) announced Wednesday.

Alleghany County, Cherokee, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hyde, Pamlico, Perquimans and Tyrell county schools will receive Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund (NBPSCF) grant awards ranging from $350,000 to $50 million.

The grants targeting districts in “economically distressed” counties are in addition to the state’s two other lottery-supported capital funds — the Public School Building Capital Fund and the Public School Building Repair and Renovation Fund – from which all 115 districts in North Carolina receive allocations each year.

The awards announce Wednesday will pay for seven new or replacement school buildings, including three high schools, two schools that combine middle and high school grades, an intermediate school for upper elementary and middle school grades and a Career and Technical Education Center (CTE).

Catherine Truitt

“Many students in North Carolina attend schools built decades ago,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a statement. “These grants are paying for schools designed and built for the 21st century. Today’s students, regardless of where they live and attend school, deserve nothing less.”

Awards are capped at $30 million for an elementary school project, $40 million for a middle school project and $50 million for a high school project.

NCDPI received 164 grant applications from 72 districts across the state totaling more than $2.4 billion.

Districts awarded grants for the fiscal year 2022-23 include:

  • Alleghany County / Alleghany County Schools will receive $47 million to build a new high school. The school will replace the district’s only high school.
  • Cherokee County / Cherokee County Schools will receive $50 million to build a new high school. The school will replace three existing high schools.
  • Gates County / Gates County Schools will receive $9.8 million for additions and renovations at Gates County High School.
  • Greene County / Greene County Schools will receive $50 million to replace the district’s existing high school.
  • Halifax County / Weldon City Schools will receive $50 million to build a new 6-12 school. It will replace two existing schools.
  • Hyde County / Hyde County Schools will receive $8.3 million for additions and renovations to Mattamuskeet, a PK-12 school.
  • Pamlico County / Pamlico County Schools will receive $50 million to build a new 6-12 school that will replace two existing schools.
  • Perquimans County / Perquimans County Schools will receive $36.9 million for a new 3-8 intermediate school. The school will replace two existing schools.
  • Tyrrell County / Tyrrell County Schools will receive $350,000 for a new CTE center to serve the county’s high school and early college.

NCDPI noted in its news release that some grant recipients are those hardest hit by recent natural disasters such as flooding and an earthquake.

Alleghany, for example, was hit by a magnitude 5.5 quake in 2020, damaging more than 100 homes and other properties. Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian caused severe flooding in Tyrell County after dumping several inches of rain on eastern North Carolina in 2019.

Wednesday’s announcement comes a little more than four months after NCDPI announced $400 million in NBPSCF awards to more than two dozen schools. The grants were the largest annual allocation under the program created by the General Assembly in 2017 from state lottery revenues.

Over the last six years, the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund has awarded a total of nearly $1.2 billion dollars to local school districts, providing funding for 69 new K-12 construction projects, including 39 new schools, 10 new buildings, and the replacement of 55 existing schools.

“As a former superintendent of a rural school district, I know how important these dollars are to the communities receiving them,” said Robert Taylor, deputy state superintendent for School and Student Advancement. “It’s an investment by the state that will pay dividends into the future for many thousands of students and educators.”

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.