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Princeville Elementary plans take shape

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

TARBORO — As repairs and renovations take place at Princeville Elementary School over the next few months, leaders of Edgecombe County Public Schools are working to create a facility they can be proud of.

Matthew Mayo, technology director for the school district, presented plans to buy new furniture for Princeville Elementary School classrooms to the Edgecombe County school board on Monday at July’s regularly scheduled board meeting. He also presented plans to buy books and other materials for the school’s new learning commons, an upgrade to the school’s former media center.

“This is going to be a model school when we get through with it,” Mayo said.

The school is being rebuilt and renovated after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, less than 20 years after the former school building was destroyed by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Since then, more than 200 Princeville Elementary students have been meeting in the Bridgers Building, an older school building on Panola Street in Tarboro.

As the school is being rebuilt this time, it will include several flood mitigation features including polished concrete floors, flood vents in exterior walls and platforms to place the HVAC unit, freezer and condensing units above the flood line. These hazard mitigation efforts were recommended to the school district by FEMA, which is footing the bill for $2,800,000 in mitigation costs plus another $1,000,000 to cover the contents of the school lost during the flood. Insurance on the building will cover another $1,990,000 for the cost of repairs, bringing the total funding for the project to $5,790,000. Currently, the budget for the reconstructions is $6,179,249.

The school board approved a $300,000 expenditure to purchase furnishings for Princeville Elementary School. Most of these furnishings will be colorful, flexible and designed to be used in multiple ways, Mayo said.

“The K-2 classrooms will look nice and modern,” Mayo said. “The cool thing about these tables is that they can connect like conference tables or be taken apart. The grade 3-5 tables can snake together or be grouped together as the teacher desires. We also have flexible seating options for kids.

“As we are rethinking education, we are thinking outside the box so we can have our kids collaborate as much as possible,” Mayo said.

School board member Evelyn Johnson said she was glad to see that the furniture was being chosen with collaboration in mind.

“I like the idea of encouraging a diverse group of kids working together,” she said. “This is a 21st century concept.”

The learning commons also will be designed to allow students to work together and display work on their tablets on a screen designed for group viewing. A new makerspace area will allow students to develop their creativity by working on projects either alone or in groups.

Books also will be a major focus of the learning commons and some of these books will be displayed on curved bookshelves that move on wheels. The school board also approved $175,000 in expenditures for new books for the learning commons at the school.

“The guidelines suggest that we have 20 books per kid, but we are going above that with about 35 books per kid,” Mayo said.

According to information provided by Jerome Williams, director of maintenance for Edgecombe County Public Schools, the construction on Princeville Elementary School is making good progress.

The masonry walls are 90 percent complete and all plumbing, electrical and HVAC rough-ins have passed inspection. The sinkhole in the parking of the school also has been repaired.

“The project is still on track to finish with the 270-day timeline and under budget,” Williams said in a written update presented to school board members.

Construction on the school is slated to be completed in time for students to return to Princeville Elementary School in January 2020.