By Allen Turner
Educational matters will be at the forefront tonight for Columbus County commissioners as the Whiteville City Schools Board of Education will ask them tonight (Monday) to approve the allocation of $4.329 million from a state school capital fund grant and another $250,000 in state lottery funds for new construction in the city school system and as they receive Southeastern Community College’s annual budget request for county funds for operating and capital funds for the upcoming year.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Dempsey B. Herring Courthouse Annex at 112 W. Smith St.
An April 11 letter from city school board chairman Coleman Barbour and Supt. Kenny Garland requested that they be put on the agenda to provide an update on the status of new construction and renovations at Whiteville High School. Last month, a schematic design for 60,000 sq. ft. in new construction and 10,000 sq. ft. in renovations has been submitted to the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction for approval.
The city schools will ask that commissioners approve their share, based on the average daily membership (ADM) of the city and county school systems, of $15 million in state grant funds for capital improvements projected to be received for the county. Based on ADM figures showing the city schools have 28.86 percent of the students in the two systems, that would translate into $4,329,000 of the $15 million state capital fund grant going to the city schools.
They also will ask that $250,000 from North Carolina lottery funds allocated to the city schools be utilized towards payment of $330,000 the city system already has committed to overall completion of the construction project. “By utilizing lottery monies towards this payment, the system will have greater flexibility in pursuing the completion of other capital outlay needs across the system,” Barbour and Garland wrote to commissioners. The city schools are developing a five-year capital outlay plan to address needs at campuses besides Whiteville High School.
Dr. Tony Clarke, president of Southeastern Community College, will deliver SCC’s annual request for county funds for operating and capital outlay expenses for the coming year. Clark will ask for $1,395,879 in operating funds, a small increase over the $1,335,108 the county gave the college last year, and for another $745,572 in funds for capital outlay, a marked decrease from last year’s request.
In other business, commissioners are expected to approve acceptance of a $7,784 grant from the N.C. Division of Aviation to enable completion of construction of a new eight-unit hangar at the airport. A local match of $865, already available in the airport budget, will be required.
Commissioners also will receive departmental updates from Elections Director Carla Strickland and DSS Director Algernon McKenzie.