CURRITUCK — Currituck officials have agreed to expand two schools in Moyock.
The Currituck Board of Commissioners and Board of Education also tentatively agreed last week to put a bond referendum on the November 2022 ballot to generate funding for new schools.
First, however, the county plans to hire an outside firm to study future school building needs.
Explosive growth in the county, especially in Moyock, has some schools in the district near capacity.
“It has to be done,” said Commissioner Kevin McCord of expanding both Moyock Elementary and Moyock Middle schools.
The county will spend an approximately $8.4 million to expand and renovate Moyock Elementary and $5.6 million to expand and renovate Moyock Middle School. It is expected that both projects will be completed by August 2023 since some of the work will have to be done during the summer when school is out.
Once the two projects are completed, the elementary school will have room for approximately 210 additional students while the middle school will have room for approximately 165 new students.
County Manager Ben Stikeleather said Currituck can fund the two expansion projects in Moyock without a tax increase.
“These two projects, we probably won’t have to take debt on,” Stikeleather said. “With using savings that we have, we should be able to pay for these two projects without going out for debt or having a tax increase.”
The county will spend $3 million to build additional space and another $2.6 million on renovations at the middle school. Around $2.7 million will be used to add space at the elementary school with $5.8 million going for renovations.
“It (middle school) did not have as much renovation money in it because it is a newer school,” Stikeleather said.
A potential bond, if approved by voters, would provide money to fund other school projects over a five- to seven-year span. A bond would at a minimum fund a new elementary school in Moyock and possibly another middle school for the district.
The two boards were told a new elementary school would cost between $25 million and $30 million.
Other building projects could be added to the bond once the study looking at future needs is conducted. Once a firm is hired, and that process is underway, the study will take about four months to complete.
“You do a bond so all the projects are included in the debt,” Stikeleather told the two boards. “Let the assessment happen and let it guide the projects. You also want to give the community plenty of time to understand the information and that they fully understand the projects.’’
If a bond is approved by voters it would mean a tax increase for county residents.
“I will have to have a tax increase to cover that debt,” Stikeleather told the two boards.
County officials started talks about the need for a new elementary school in Moyock well over a year ago. State House Rep. Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck, had $11 million added for the school to the state budget passed by the Republican-led Legislature last year.
But that money is no longer available after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget because it didn’t expand Medicare coverage to more low-income North Carolinians and didn’t give teachers larger pay raises.
The House later voted to override Cooper’s veto but the Senate could never muster enough votes for an override attempt. As a result, the state is operating without a budget.
“As you all know the governor failed to sign the budget and then when you combine that with some budgetary shortfalls, a lot of capital funding that was in the (state) budget was cut out,” Stikeleather said.