EDENTON — Chowan County and the Edenton-Chowan Schools have adopted an agreement setting the cost of the new John A. Holmes High School at $50 million and clarifying their responsibilities in the school construction project.
The agreement, approved in August and amended this month, establishes a procedure for county officials and school officials “to communicate and collaborate during the process of improving, constructing, renovating and equipping the JAH High School Project,” according to the agreement’s wording.
The pact goes on to state the county and school district “agree to undertake their respective duties in an open and cooperative way with the goal of completing the... JAH High School Project in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
County Manager Kevin Howard said the memorandum of understanding is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is providing financing for the project.
The Edenton-Chowan Board of Education is tasked with general oversight of design, construction and equipping of the high school. The county is tasked with oversight of “funding of the project and the disbursement of funds for the improvement, design, all construction and equipping of” the new school.
County and school district officials will participate together in bidding processes.
The agreement also authorizes “financing sources, their respective representatives and agents, and the County” to enter and inspect the school construction site “from time to time, before, during and after construction.”
The agreement acknowledges the project cost is limited to $50 million. The county will borrow up to $35 million and the state Needs-Based Public School Fund will provide up to $15 million in funding.
Under the agreement, the school board and county also agree that the $35 million borrowed by the county from the U.S. Department of Agriculture “shall decrease if additional grant funds become available from any other source,” unless commissioners vote otherwise.
The county and the school district also agree that “any significant change orders or project modifications” that would cause the overall cost of the new school to exceed $50 million would require “mutual approval” by both commissioners and the school board as well as “all applicable funding sources.”
The agreement was amended last week to clarify that the amount the county borrows from USDA is expected to decrease if additional grant funds become available.
The county and school district agree the county “will not borrow more than is necessary to complete” the school if that can be done for less than $50 million.