On March 16, the Haywood County Schools Board approved an application to the Public School Building Capital Fund for $250,000 in lottery proceeds to be used for renovations on the former Central Elementary School’s K-1 building.
Per North Carolina General Statute 115C-546.2, such funds can only be used for “construction, reconstruction, enlargement, improvement, repair or renovation of public school buildings and for the purchase of land for public school buildings; for equipment to implement a local school technology plan; or for both.”
Currently, HCS’ exceptional children’s program is housed at the site of the former Hazelwood Elementary School, on Virginia Avenue in Hazelwood next to Folkmoot.
Central Elementary School was shuttered controversially back in 2016, but as new housing developments go up around town and population grows, there’s been widespread speculation that HCS will once again have to utilize the facility, which has since been vandalized.
Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead said that the lottery funding would pay for electrical and plumbing work, improvements to the HVAC system, repairs to the ceiling and floors, and insulation.
On April 5, HCS’ application came before the Haywood Board of Commissioners for approval.
Originally, the item was listed as part of the consent agenda. The consent agenda usually lists relatively mundane housekeeping items that are non-controversial, so they can be approved all at once. This helps speed up meetings, but also limits public comment and presentations on consent agenda items.
Haywood County resident Monroe Miller, who was in attendance at the meeting, took issue with the item being placed among the other 14 items on the consent agenda and utilized the public comment session of the meeting to ask that it be placed on the meeting’s regular agenda.
“When this item is reached in your consent agenda items, Chairman Ensley, please do one of the following,” Miller said. “Open this for discussion and have the presenter [Haywood County’s Internal Auditor] Kristian Owen explain what these renovations are on a school that is currently closed and why this involves a quarter of a million dollars from the lottery proceeds or move the agenda item to the regular agenda.”
Commissioners agreed with Miller and considered the approval of HCS’ lottery fund application during the regular agenda portion of the meeting. The application was approved unanimously.
— By Cory Vaillancourt