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Commissioners, school board reach funding pact

By Staff
Deal clears way for building new John Small Elementary School
By NIKIE MAYO and DAN PARSONS, Daily News Staff
The hatchets are buried, for now.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, during a meeting with the Beaufort County Board of Education on Tuesday night, voted 5-2 to enter an agreement with the school board that bars the two bodies from suing each other over school-related funding for four years.
Earlier in the day, the school board unanimously voted to take the “interlocal agreement” to the commissioners for their consideration. After the commissioners met in a nearly 1.5 hour closed session to discuss the proposed agreement, they accepted it.
Commissioners Hood Richardson and Stan Deatherage voted against the agreement. McRoy and commissioners Robert Cayton, Ed Booth, Jerry Langley and Al Klemm voted for the deal.
The agreement calls for the school board to relinquish funds it receives from state-lottery proceeds to the county for the period of the pact. In exchange, the county will release bond-sale revenues to help build the new John Small Elementary School. After the 2010-2011 budget year, lottery proceeds will return to the school system to be used for its capital projects.
As part of the deal, the school board will receive a 5-percent increase — about $300,000 — in county dollars each year for the next four years.
School leaders must still present proposed budgets for the school system to commissioners as usual before the beginning of each budget year. If the schools later deviate from their spending plans, those budget requests must come back for commissioners’ approval.
During the meeting, commissioners accepted bids totaling $11,085,035 to design and build the new school. That amount includes the $10.4 million bid to build the school. Those bids had to be accepted by Tuesday or the project would have to be rebid.
Before the commissioners met, Belcher said that if they did not accept the agreement, the school board would simply walk out of the joint meeting.
During the school board’s earlier meeting, a motion to accept the agreement was made by William S. Warren and seconded by Booth.
Details about the school board agreeing to turn its lottery-generated revenue over to the county were unclear late Tuesday.
House Bill 1023, which established the N.C. Education Lottery, states that “a county may use monies in this fund to pay for school construction projects in local school administrative units and to retire indebtedness incurred for school construction projects incurred on or after January 1, 2003.”