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Schools to get $7.5M from pipeline builders

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

RED OAK — Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will likely have $7.5 million added to its coffers in the coming fiscal year, Nash-Rocky Mount Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies told members of the school board Monday.

Jefferies said that the estimated $7.5-million boon is expected to be the school district’s portion of the $57.8 million that builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plan to “gift” to the state as part of the deal that allows its installation through 11 North Carolina counties, including Nash County.

House Bill 90, which provides for this distribution of funds, has been ratified by the N.C. General Assembly. Gov. Roy Cooper so far has refused to either sign or veto the law, which also contains provisions regarding funding for class sizes as well as for State Board of Elections and Ethics enforcement. Without any action on the governor’s part, the bill is expected to become law later this month.

School board attorney Rod Malone said the $7.5 million will likely fall under the direct control of the school board.

“As the law stands, we anticipate that this one-time payment will go directly to the school board and not to the county to be distributed to the school board,” Malone said. “We also anticipate that the money can be used for either current expenses or capital improvements.”

This news will likely be a big topic of discussion on Thursday as the newly-formed joint small group budget committee holds its first meeting after months of discussion about the composition and nature of the entity. The board will be comprised of three Nash County commissioners and five school board members. The Nash County commissioners include Chairman Robbie Davis, Vice Chairman Wayne Outlaw and Fred Belfield. School board members on the committee will include Chairwoman Ann Edge, Vice Chairman Bill Sharpe, Wayne Doll, Evelyn Bulluck and Wendy Wilson.

Jefferies said he met with Davis to discuss the parameters of the small group budget committee. At one point, the two groups had discussed having two separate committees, one to discuss capital projects and one to discusses current expenses. However, both bodies have now agreed to authorize one group to discuss both issues.

“This body will not have any decision-making powers,” Jefferies said. “The purpose of the group is to allow us to start tilling the soil before we approach county commissioners with any formal budget requests so that they have a better understanding of what we need.”

The first meeting of the joint budget committee will be at 3 p.m. on Thursday in the board room at the Nash-Rocky Mount Central office in Nashville. Under North Carolina open meetings law, the session will be considered a public meeting.

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