Three major school projects on hold after New Hanover County Schools doesn’t get requested $70 million needs-based grant from state

Three major school projects on hold after New Hanover County Schools doesn’t get requested $70 million needs-based grant from state
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 10:40 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Schools applied for around $70 million to build a new elementary school near Riverlights. That money was also going to be used to replace Pine Valley Elementary and renovate Mary C. Williams Elementary.

The district, however, did not get a dime of the state’s needs-based grants, which is money from the state educational lottery.

“We weren’t sure we were gonna get all of the money we were requesting, so we had prioritized our request and we were hoping that we would get at least one of the projects or a couple of the projects funded,” Eddie Anderson, NHCS Assistant Superintendent said. “Obviously, in looking at the counties that received the funding, they went to more low wealth counties, so the needs-based part of it was a priority in their awarding of the grants.”

When asked where the district goes from here to move these projects forward, Anderson responded: “”Well, I know the county is committed to supporting the needs, the capital needs of the school system and I also know that the school board and the county this time of year are very busy working on their operating budgets. So, we’re going to pause this just for a little while and then maybe pick up those discussions with the county. That gives us some time to look at updated cost information, maybe do some cash flow analysis, things that would help the county better determine what, if any, of these projects they could fund down the road.”

Anderson says the school district already has about $32 million in funding from the county and around $600,000 in leftover bond money.

As New Hanover County continues to see steady growth, the school district is preparing for the future.

“During the pandemic, we saw a reduction in our enrollment, that is picking back up and it will pick back up over the next couple of years,” Anderson said. “We update our long range plan every five years and we’re seeing a little increase in our kindergarten enrollment which is great for their emphasizing the need for these priority projects.”

For now, all is not lost. Anderson says this buys them more time to look over the plans and make changes if needed.

For one, Anderson says they could opt to rebuild Mary C. Williams Elementary as opposed to renovating it.

Building prices, though, have drastically increased since these projects were first put on the table.

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