Beaufort County is actually getting a brand-new school

Published 11:48 am Thursday, February 22, 2024

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The new combined school to replace Eastern Elementary and J.C. Tayloe will be an enormous benefit to the county. I was disappointed that the motion to accept the $42 million was not unanimously approved by both boards. If the grant was rejected by Beaufort County; the funds would have went to another county.

The $42 million dollars comes to us by way of the North Carolina State Lottery. Goal is to build one new school in each county. By the way, North Carolina actually has a budget surplus.

The county will contribute additional funds to build the school but the amount is minimal compared to the money the county is receiving. The county has plenty of money in the nonrestricted fund balance to cover it with no increase in the county tax rate. It’s a win-win situation for the county and Beaufort County Schools.

There are always concerns about government spending. The county and state are required to have a balanced budget, the federal government is not. Deficit spending by the federal government is allowed and has resulted in large deficits and record national debt. There is no sign of it slowing down.  Only the federal government can print money.

Over the years, North Carolina and Beaufort County have done an excellent job managing their budgets. The federal government has not.

There are many benefits to building the new school. Designing the school with safety and security as a priority, will result in a school that is safer and more secure. The new school will eliminate most of the problems of the schools they replace.  

Engineering (design) solutions are always more dependable than people. An example of an engineering solution is having alarms on all the outside doors in place of having a person go around and check the doors. The doors will notify the school if one is breached. It’s impossible to have a person at each door all the time.

No matter how safe the new school is, it will still require an SRO.  Being the schools are combined, only one will be required in place of two. It’s an example of a few cost savings that will occur when the schools are combined. There are many others.

I was really surprised at how many people were opposed to the new school. Fixing up these old buildings and expecting them be just as good as a new modern building is not going to occur. If Beaufort County had not gotten the grant, the buildings would have eventually had to be replaced any way.

Due to the grant, Beaufort County has the funds to do it now.

Beaufort County still has two old schools in Chocowinity but from a physical standpoint, Eastern Elementary and J.C. Tayloe were the worst. Possibly, sometime in the future, there will be a need to replace the two schools in Chocowinity but for the time being; let’s be happy with what we are getting.

Al Klemm is a Washington resident and a former Beaufort County Commissioner.