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Bid Approved For Gymnasium Project At Alexander County School

The Alexander County Board of Education recently held a special called meeting for the purpose of accepting bids for Sugar Loaf Elementary School’s gymnasium project. The meeting was held last Thursday (June 29). In January, the state awarded $5.3 million dollars for the project. Upgrading the gym is part of a five-year facility improvement plan for the district.

The board voted unanimously to go with the lowest base bid of $4.9 million with JM Cope Construction out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner emphasized the grant money cannot be spent for any part of the district’s operating budget and must be used for this specific capital improvement. Board member Scott Bowman, who chairs the facilities committee, said this project has been a long time in the making and said the people in the Sugar Loaf community deserve these improvements.

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 full-sized 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.

The money comes 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 $1.38 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 commission has agreed to contribute $265,000, or five percent, of matching money to complete the Sugar Loaf project.

[Story courtesy of Rick Gilbert, WACB]