System receives close to half-million dollars to help pay down construction debt

Last updated: June 16. 2014 4:41PM - 469 Views
By Chase Jordan cjordan@civitasmedia.com



Chase Jordan / Sampson IndependentClinton Board of Education vice chairman E.R. Mason and superintendent Stuart Blount examine documents during a recent meeting.
Chase Jordan / Sampson IndependentClinton Board of Education vice chairman E.R. Mason and superintendent Stuart Blount examine documents during a recent meeting.
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Every year, millions of people have dreams of winning the lottery.


Although it’s a long shot for the players, school systems such as Clinton City are the guaranteed benefactors.


During a recent Board of Education meeting, assistant superintendent Clyde Locklear announced the payment of more than $462,000 through lottery funds to decrease the debt of construction for Clinton High School (CHS). After his presentation, the board approved the funding from the Public Schools Building Capital Fund.


“It’s interesting information,” Locklear said. “People often ask about lottery funds and where those monies go. This is one source of those monies that goes to capitol construction.”


The debt payment each year is more than $1.7 million


“The Sampson County government is providing the other resources to pay the remaining amount,” Locklear noted.


According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the net proceeds of lottery funds go to education expenses such as reducing class sizes in early grades, prekindergarten programs, scholarships and school construction.


A portion of proceeds of the North Carolina State Lottery Fund may be transferred to the Public School Building Capital Fund.


Overall, Sampson County has received more than $24 million in lottery funds since March 2006. The other revenue streams, which support state funding for public schools, are fine and forfeitures, sales tax and the general fund.


Counties are not required to provide matching funds and are allowed to use money in the fund to pay for school construction projects. Money may not be used for school technology needs.


Locklear said originally that 40 percent of the proceeds of the lottery were for capitol constructions. “For the past couple of years, that has been changed and has been capped at $100 million,” he said.


He said there was a time when the district would receive close to a million for the high school projects.


Board chairwoman Georgina Zeng believes more North Carolina Education Lottery funds should be distributed towards education.


“I think more of that money should be directed towards education,” she stressed. “Instead it’s going elsewhere. It should be true to its name.”


According to the website, 61 percent is used for lottery prizes, 28 percent for education earning, 7 percent for retailer commissions and incentives and 4 percent is used for administrative expenses.


DPI officials said even if the NC education lottery distributed 100 percent of its revenue to schools, it would only cover 19 percent of the state’s total budget for public schools.


The total cost of the CHS project was $30 million. The new school opened its doors in 2008 and, school officials said, was built to help with a growing overcrowding problem.


“We had a lot of mobile classrooms on campuses because of the student population and overcrowding,” Lockler said. “Building the high school allowed us to alleviate some of that overcrowding. It allowed us to break up some of the grades that were assigned to each school.”


Before construction, the existing Sampson Middle School served as the high school for the city. Middle school students attended what is now Sunset Avenue School.


“We built a new high school and moved our middle there,” Locklear said about the Elizabeth Street and Indian Town Road area. “That worked out well for us becuase they can share some facilities.”


A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Facilities Loan was issued in July 2006. According to the USDA, the program provides loans and grants for facilities in rural areas. Priority is given to health care, education and safety projects such as schools, hospitals and community centers.


Programs provide loans, grant and loan guarantees for essential community facilities in rural areas. Priority is given to health care, education and public safety projects. Typical projects are hospitals, health clinics, schools, fire houses, community centers and many other community based initiatives.

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