Sharon Warden

New heating and cooling systems, upgraded computers for students, and some fresh paint are among Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools' needs for next school year, the ECPPS Board of Education told Pasquotank County commissioners on Tuesday night.

In the meeting at the county library, ECPPS board chairwoman Sharon Warden and school officials previewed their 2019-2020 budget request to county commissioners. Warden said a formal presentation – and firm numbers – are coming soon, but the needs she discussed Tuesday may exceed $2 million.

The meeting also allowed school officials to update commissioners on ECPPS's activities and successes – and discuss their concerns with public perception of the district.

Warden opened by noting the $1.2 million replacement of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at Northside Elementary School is underway – and told commissioners similar work is needed for decades-old, antiquated HVAC systems at Northeastern High School and H.L. Trigg Community School.

Warden said replacement parts for Northeastern's system are becoming impossible to find, with ECPPS Maintenance Director Frankie Floyd also calling it a “failing” system that needs attention.

Warden said ECPPS's first step in the replacement is hiring an engineer, estimated to cost $50,000, to plan the new system.

She initially put the entire project cost at $1.5 million, but Floyd said it would likely cost more. The system is so large, it may need to be done in stages, he added.

Warden also said H.L. Trigg's HVAC system needs replacing as well, and put that cost at $375,000.

At Northside, as well as for Northeastern and H.L. Trigg, Floyd explained the district is converting to more modern, efficient and flexible units that don't include boilers. Northside is switching to a “variable refrigerant” system that will allow temperature control in each room, he said.

He also said he hopes to see one or two wings of Northside running on the new system by the end of spring break.

In other budget needs, Warden said ECPPS needs to expand or upgrade computers for students, including upgrading Google Chromebooks in the middle and high schools and expanding use of iPads for K-2. She said iPads have proven to offer effective programs for K-2 students, and are sometimes easier for them to handle.

Warden also said the district was looking at interior painting for River Road Middle School – the interior looks “dirty” and “dingy,” she said – as well as P.W. Moore Elementary School.

Warden did not provide cost estimates for those projects Tuesday.

Warden also said the district is looking at increasing local supplements paid for teachers. Individual counties and districts vary in their funding for local supplements, so, even after statewide raises for teachers, pay disparities exist.

Warden said ECPPS's local supplements haven't kept pace with surrounding districts, including Camden and Currituck, and argued increasing them would help recruit and retain quality teachers. She didn't propose a specific amount Tuesday.

Warden also suggested ECPPS will ask for more funding for other operational costs, including covering pass-through money paid to the Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies. That amount reflects state dollars that follow the student, so as the charter school's enrollment grows, so too does the money ECPPS has to pass along to it. Students from multiple counties attend the charter school.

Warden didn't say how much ECPPS expected to the pay the charter school next year, but said it would be more than this year. During budget talks last spring, school officials estimated this year's charter school contribution at $575,000.