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Leaders break ground on John Small

By Staff
School is the last project funded under $33 million bond package
By NIKIE MAYO
News Editor
With some framework already set in the background, leaders gathered Monday to break ground for the new school that almost wasn’t to be.
Outfitted in white hardhats and equipped with gold shovels, a handful of players in the project dug a little dirt at John Small Elementary School on Market Street Extension.
Beginning the new school is no small feat.
The last of five projects to be built under a $33 million bond that voters approved in 2004, John Small’s future seemed to be on shaky ground when the previous projects came in over budget. Those projects, which benefited schools in Chocowinity, Bath and Aurora and included a new P.S. Jones Middle School in Washington, were all built, but early cost estimates proved to be less than airtight. Those figures, from 2002, didn’t hold up in today’s market of pricier construction materials.
But by February, school and county leaders had decided that the school could, indeed, be built. A four-year funding agreement approved by both the Beaufort County school board and the commissioners ultimately cleared the way for the $11,085,035 John Small Elementary School.
School board Chairman Robert Belcher said the recent facility upgrades and the new schools represent “$33 million of your money spent in Beaufort County … not just for us adults, but for generations to come.”
Greenville-based Hite Associates has designed several of the bond-related projects.
Architect Jimmy Hite said John Small and neighboring P.S. Jones constitute an “educational park.”
That makes the transition from one school to another easier for parents, Moss said.
Commissioners’ Chairman Jay McRoy said he hoped the school would symbolize a new chapter for county and school leaders. The funding lawsuit that pitted commissioners and school board members against one another last summer is still under appeal.
Belcher said he and McRoy have been able to work “hand and glove together” to see that John Small gets built and that the schools are funded.