03/07/14 — WCPS to ask state to use lottery funds

View Archive

WCPS to ask state to use lottery funds

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 7, 2014 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Board of Education Thursday night voted to ask Wayne County commissioners to support its application to the state to release $6.1 million in lottery funds to help fund $12.3 million in school renovation projects.

The school board also approved an approximately $2 million contract with SfL+a Architects for engineering and architectural work the company already has completed for new middle schools at Grantham and Spring Creek.

Both actions were unanimously approved.

"The Facilities Committee met this afternoon with the SfL+a architect firm," board member Rick Pridgen said. "We are excited about being able to move forward with our projects at Grantham and Spring Creek middle schools.

"We received a lot of information, a lot of valuable information from (SfL+a CEO and president) Mr. (Robbie) Ferris today in our facilities meeting. We are asking this evening on behalf of the Facilities Committee that we approve the SfL+a contract. We would like that to be contingent on us drawing down our one-half cent sales tax (revenues) with the approval of the county commissioners."

Pridgen said the action will be the first of many as the projects proceed in stages.

Board member Eddie Radford thanked Ferris and his company for their professional work and for being able to overcome problems that have arisen.

"It has been a tough way to go, but I think that all of the board realizes that we are fixing to do something in this county that everybody has waited for," he said. "We are certainly, and I am particularly, wanting to see it started and greatly seeing it finished."

In early February, commissioners authorized the school board to proceed with the renovation projects -- $1.8 million for the central attendance area (Goldsboro High School, Dillard Middle School and Carver Heights Elementary School), $3.85 million for Spring Creek Elementary and $6.6 million for Charles B. Aycock High School.

Then later in the month commissioners told the school board it also could proceed with its $40 million project to build middle schools in the Grantham and Spring Creek communities.

The vote to proceed with the two new schools was a compromise between the two boards.

The school board will make a minimum $5 million down payment on the schools.

SfL+a will develop and build the schools under a lease purchase agreement with the school board.

The county will be able to "unwind" the operating lease structure after five years and assume the loan. When that happens, the county will have the option to pre-pay the loan at any time without penalty.

The annual financing payment is not to exceed $2.9 million for the term of the 20-year lifespan of the note.

The school board will use lottery and sales tax reserves to make its $2.2 million share of the annual $2.9 million payment.

The county will provide $700,000 annually on the payment in exchange for the school district absorbing the operating costs for the two new schools estimated at $1.7 million annually.