State announcement school construction grant for BCPS
Morganton, NC – Friday, Feb. 9, 2024
Burke County Public Schools is receiving a $42 million school construction grant. North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt visited Burke County on Friday to announce the grant award from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund, which is revenue from the NC Education Lottery. The grant was established to assist counties with critical public school building capital needs to construct new school buildings and additions, and make repairs and renovations to existing school facilities. Burke County Public Schools applied for the grant in conjunction with the Burke County Board of Commissioners.
Truitt said, “It is no surprise that a student’s environment impacts their ability to learn, and I’m thrilled that the new Eastern Burke County Elementary School will replace aging buildings. In addition to addressing ADA and safety concerns, this new and centrally-located facility in Burke County will provide an incredible space for students to learn and grow, while providing more modern facilities for educators to feel inspired. This school’s proposed new gymnasium, auditorium, playground and athletic facilities will contribute to student wellness and community engagement which will serve students and teachers for years to come.”
Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan said, “We are beyond excited to learn that we will receive these funds to help meet some of our capital needs. Our students deserve the best possible school buildings in which to learn and grow, and this will go a long way in helping us create optimal spaces to enhance student outcomes.”
Board of Education Chair Seth P. Hunt Jr. said, “This is a great day for education in Burke County, and I am thrilled about this announcement. I want to thank the state and our local county commissioners for their great partnerships and shared vision of providing facilities of which our communities, students and staff can be proud.”
Chairman of the Burke County Board of Commissioners Jeffrey Brittain said, “Whether through the construction of a new state-of-the-art school or the enhancement of existing facilities, we are excited to support the school district in its efforts to help provide a positive learning environment for students to thrive and reach their fullest potential.”
A 2020-21 NCDPI Facility Need Study identified several Burke County Public Schools elementary school buildings with infrastructure needs. The district has 12 schools whose main buildings were built before the 1960s, 11 are current elementary schools and three of the current elementary schools were built in the 1930s. In addition to the older buildings needing repairs and updates, in the older schools, students often have to travel between buildings for different activities, which creates safety and ADA compliance concerns; some schools are in need of lead or asbestos abatement; some have gyms and cafeterias that are too small; and some have traffic infrastructure needs for drop off and pick up.
The Board of Education has a committee that is studying how to best use the funds. The grant calls for Burke County to provide $13 million in matching funds.