School system plans new RSHS gymnasium and adds classrooms

HAMLET — There are three new capital projects that schools in Richmond County will be undertaking over the next few years.

It is planned that Richmond Senior High School will have an auxiliary gymnasium adjacent to its current gymnasium. The project is expected to cost $8,177,904.

This cost also includes plans to build up to five classrooms, with dividers to potentially double the number of classrooms. Two toilets will also be added.

Dr. Julian Carter, Associate Superintendent of HR, said the auxiliary gymnasium will allow students to share space more efficiently. Previously, students were returning home later than expected due to overcrowding in various sports programs.

“[The project] will give us a lot of flexibility for our students,” Carter said. “It will allow us to bring ninth-grade academy kids to school.”

President Wiley Mabe said transferring students from the Academy to RSHS has always been a priority but has not been possible due to financial constraints.

“We’re hoping… we’ll be ready for fall 2024,” Mabe said, though he cautioned there was no set timeline. He predicted that this project would take about 24 months.

Elementary schools build additional classrooms

Fairview Heights Elementary School is the only elementary school in the county without a gym. Thanks to ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds, there is a plan to change that.

Carter, a former manager there, said he heard about the problems with the lack of a gym every day.

The projected cost of the gymnasium is $2,523,276. It will be located at the back of the school next to the current third and fourth grade classrooms.

In the outline of the project, two toilets, a staff toilet, a storage area and a janitor’s closet will be added.

Mineral Springs Elementary currently has nine student trailers outside of the main building. The third and final capital expenditure project is a six-classroom addition that would eliminate most, if not all, of Mineral Springs’ trailers, according to Carter.

Two washrooms, a staff washroom and a janitor’s closet are part of the project, totaling $2,298,838.

Carter said these classrooms could serve as a wing for two different grade levels.

The board voted to authorize Superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples to announce these projects and begin generating interest and plans.

The three investment projects are financed by ESSER funds.

ESSER funds come from the United States Department of Education through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). About 90% of these funds go to local educational agencies. The percentage of money each county receives is the same as its Title I allotment. Title I-eligible schools have low-income families who make up 40 percent of their enrollment.

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Contact Matthew Sasser at 910-817-2671 or [email protected]

Jeremy S. McLain