School board votes to rebuild Princeville Elementary
BY AMELIA HARPER
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
TARBORO — Shouts, claps, tears and amens erupted at the Edgecombe County Public Schools special called Board of Education meeting on Tuesday as the board voted unanimously to rebuild Princeville Elementary School at it current location.
“I am elated about the decision,” said Princeville Elementary School Principal Annette Walker. “I am especially pleased for the children and their families.”
Shelia Mayo-DeLoatch, a kindergarten teacher at Princeville Elementary School, wept openly at the decision.
“Princeville has always been my school. It is my home. I have taught there since 2001 and had opportunities to go somewhere else, but I have turned them down because Princeville is where I want to be.”
The school board took only minutes to decide the issue, which has been under consideration for more than a year since Princeville Elementary School was flooded in October 2016 in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
School board Chairwoman Evelyn Wilson said the school board has been carefully considering this decision for more than a year, weighing the options carefully before making a decision.
“We have not played with this at all. This has been a serious thing before us, and we are glad to make the decision,” Wilson said.
Within 10 days of the flood last year, students were housed at the Bridgers Buildiing on Panola Street in Tarboro, which had been repurposed into a family resource center. Students will remain in that building until fall 2018, when repairs to the original school are expected to be completed.
Ann Kent, vice chairwoman of the school board, said she wants to thank the Princeville Elementary staff for “sticking in there with the children.”
“I know this has been difficult for you, but you had a wonderful leader. Some of you lost many of your materials in the flood, but everyday you have come to school and given your children 100 percent.”
The school board specified in its motion that the school will be rebuilt to include several hazard mitigation improvements, such as elevating air conditioning units, installing tile rather than carpet in classrooms and replacing some drywall with masonry. These improvements will be paid for with $270,000 of FEMA funds. These efforts should lessen the impact of any future flooding at the school, David Coker, director of maintenance and transportation at Edgecombe County Public Schools, said during a special called meeting in September.
Coker said insurance payments should cover the estimated $4 million needed to repair the building and replace furniture, technology and equipment.
“This is a wonderful day for Princeville and a wonderful day for Edgecombe County. I think the students will be happiest of all when they hear they are going back to their school,” Wilson said.