Team explores renovating or replacing Carthage Elementary

Moore County officials met May 7 to discuss renovating or replacing Carthage Elementary School. The meeting was held at Moore County Schools’ central office in Carthage with presentations and discussions from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Carthage board members, Moore County School officials, Moore County Commissioners and Carthage Century Commission, whose purpose is to facilitate growth and jobs, explored data as an educational committee team.

Concerning replacement, based on the hypothetical growth forecast, a preliminary design was presented for 650 students with 109,437 square feet, costing approximately $42.5 million. Those figures may fluctuate as research and studies resume.

Preliminary research included a study by North Carolina State University, and the study will be conducted again to bring more realistic numbers into consideration. The study helps determine if students will leave elementary education, enter middle school and high school and graduate in uniform growth patterns or will population growth impact the hypothetical growth forecast as seen in the slide below.

All slides provided by school district.

Town Manager Thomas Robinson said Carthage was seeing unreal growth and was currently working with seven developers.

“We’re really scrambling,” Robinson said about rapid inflation and population growth. “Does have the potential to be more than what is projected here.”

“Growth could be higher,” Carthage Town Planner Kathy Liles said. 

Raising the student capacity from 650 to 800 would cost approximately $2.7 million more, according to Executive Director for Operations of Moore County Schools, Architect John Birath.

Funding options were presented and included using ESSER, which is an acronym for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. The funds have strings attached. For example, the funds can be used to improve, repair or replace air filtration systems but not for windows or a roof.

County governments are responsible for paying for school buildings, and the primary source of revenue for county governments is local property taxes.

Concerns for keeping the same location at 312 Rockingham St. are congested traffic, difficulty to add rooms, taking in the ballfield to add rooms, the 30-foot slope where the school sits on a hill, the forecasted growth of Little River Community, nowhere to place modular units, the need for larger classrooms and rooms for nurses and counselors, and the safety factor of the buildings not being connected to meet safety standards.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction rates Carthage Elementary School as a 6, which recommends replacement for any school building with a score of 12 or less.

According to Superintendent Bob Grimesey, it will take approximately three years from the time of a vote to build a school and to move into the school, should they vote to build.

Birath said the price of materials and manufacturing delays will impact the cost and timeframe of renovations or replacement. The hypothetical projected increase of material costs is 4%.

Demolishing costs have also increased. The rate for demolishing the old Pinehurst Elementary School in 2019 was $262 per square foot, and the rate is now $286 per square foot. As inflation grows, it is projected to increase.

Robinson said good schools bring new businesses and Carthage Elementary School is too old.

Before the presentation and discussion, Carthage Century Committee member Tommy Phillips said the school needs to be replaced on the same campus. It is not known if Phillips changed his mind after the meeting.

After the data was presented, Robinson asked for the data to be refined to better understand if the 650 student capacity size is correct and wants to tweak the presentation for the educational committee and for the public.

Grimesey said they have the money to enhance the school now. Carthage Elementary School needs new windows, air conditioning and plumbing improvements.

Feature photo: Moore County Schools Executive Director for Operations, Architect John Birath and Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey meet on May 7 with Town of Carthage Commissioner Dan Bonillo, and Carthage Century Committee representative Tommy Phillips, Carthage Mayor Jimmy Chalflinch, Town Manager Thomas B. Robinson, and Carthage Town Planner Kathy Liles at Moore County Schools’ board room to discuss renovating or replacing Carthage Elementary School.

~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie Sellers.

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