It is provided in N.C. General Statue, Chapter 18C, that “a portion of the proceeds of the N.C. State Lottery Fund be transferred to the Public School Building Capital Fund in accordance with ... retiring indebtedness incurred for school construction projects incurred on or after Jan. 1, 2003.”
During the school board meeting March 3, members opted to implement the system’s capital portion of the N.C. Education Lottery, $909,855.08 that would be used towards subsidizing the debt acquired from the USDA when constructing the new Clinton High School.
According to Clyde Locklear, assistant superintendent for finance and facilities, due to the major construction at the high school, the board had to have other funds , therefore, the money was borrowed from the county commissioners; however it must be paid back with lottery money, county taxes or whatever money is available to make the debt payment.
Officials also said the city schools’ portion of the lottery funds can be used for various projects, and in this case paying off debt would be how the city schools plans to utilize the funds.
“This is not something we asked for; it is something that has to be done,” Locklear said requiring the debt payment to the USDA loan.
“This is used directly as a payment for Clinton High School. We do not ever see this funding,” superintendent Dr. Gene Hales reminded the board, adding that filing the education lottery application was merely a formality.
“The money will go from the governor to the commissioners, and from the commissioners the payment will be made,” Hales continued.
However recent reports from Department of Public Instruction officials suggested that some lottery funding will be redirected in order to assist with the state’s budget shortfall, and that could leave government agencies, such as the commissioners, searching for other revenues to pay such things as construction debt.
“The governor has redirected lottery funds and if some of that is this (the $909,855.08) money, then the county commissioners will have to find other resources. That’s the clincher, because the budget is so up in the air right now,” Hales said about the potential redirection of lottery funding.
“They could raise the county taxes to bring in the funding,” Locklear mentioned, citing that as an example of a way to obtain money for the debt payment.
“Or they could look for other sources or revenues they may have,” Hales added.
“To our knowledge,” Locklear expressed on behalf on the board, “we do not know if there is a problem with the lottery money or budgeting that could have a potential impact on paying off the debt.”
He added, “As far as we know, it (the $909,855.08) will be set aside, and I would suspect the same thing is going on with the county schools. They may even be getting more money because they built two new schools.”
During the Clinton Board of Education meeting March 3, Locklear also addressed the board with a list of additional projects for the new high school, which will cost roughly $505,000 and come from remaining contingency money within the CHS construction budget.
“This money ($505,000) is coming from money allocated to pay for the new high school. We had contingency money remaining, and we were able to identify additional projects for the high school,” he explained earlier this week.
Within the list of projects are four bleachers (at $5,000 apiece), which seat approximately 250 spectators, schoolwide wireless access ($30,000), a information highway classroom ($35,000), video streaming ($80,000), lights for the soccer and band fields ($250,000), a restroom and concession building ($70,000) and fencing on the soccer and ball fields ($20,000).
“All of these are things that we definitely needed, but weren’t first priority. If we didn’t have contingency money left, we would have worked over the next few years with whatever sources were available to us,” Locklear commented.
He also noted that all of these projects are under way, however, a definite completion date is unknown.
“We had engineers in to talk to us, but it is hard to say (when they all will be finished).”
“Our goal is to have them in by next school year,” Hales projected.
Jessica Wagner can be contacted at 910-592-8137 ext.122 or reached by e-mail at email@example.com