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Area School System To Receive Funding For New Elementary School Gym

Alexander County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner has announced that the district is getting $5.3 million dollars in state money to build a new gymnasium at Sugar Loaf Elementary School. The district had applied for the funding earlier, but was made aware in late September that it did not receive the money. However, after some adjustments at the state level, state superintendent Catherine Truitt told Hefner on Tuesday the district will, in fact, receive the Sugar Loaf money.

Upgrading the gym is part of a five-year facility improvement plan for the district. Sugar Loaf Elementary opened in 1958 and was most recently updated in 2002 with six new classrooms. Pinnacle Architecture of Matthews has created a plan to build a new gymnasium, create new offices, change the old gym into a media center, and demolish the old gym at a price tag of $5.5 million dollars at Sugar Loaf. The architects reported in October they could begin the bidding process from the drawings by February if the money was available.

The money will come from the state’s Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. Funding for buildings and improvements falls under the responsibility of the counties according to state law. From time to time, the state releases grant money for capital projects. Most recently, Alexander County Schools received more than four million dollars for a new roof at Bethlehem Elementary from the state fund.

The needs-based funding is money the state takes off the top of lottery proceeds and awards to districts. Alexander County often is eligible for state funding that other districts do not get because it’s considered a Tier Two county. The tier designation is based on the median county income, average unemployment rate, and property tax base. The county will be expected to contribute five percent of matching money to complete the Sugar Loaf project.

[Story and photo of Sugar Loaf Elementary School courtesy of Rick Gilbert, WACB]