In surprise event, NC awards nearly $30M to renovate South Asheboro Middle School

ASHEBORO — Asheboro City Schools (ACS) board members and executives were surprised by representatives from the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the General Assembly today with the announcement of a $29.7 million needs-based grant award to revitalize the 62-year-old South Asheboro Middle School.

The award comes after more than 100 applications from over 50 school districts were sent to the DPI for awards out of the $400 million Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund, a capital expenditure-focused program funded by the General Assembly with proceeds from the lottery.

Applications closed in early January, and this was the third award announcement after a $2.6 million award towards a Career and Technical Education program in Mount Airy and a $62 million grant to rebuild a high school in Macon County.

Asheboro City Schools Superintendent, Aaron Woody (L), accepts a grant from State Superintendent Catherine Truitt at a surprise event in Asheboro on Tuesday. (Scott Pelkey for the North State Journal)

“I’m excited to have surprised Asheboro City Schools,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt. “And I’m thrilled to celebrate this achievement with ACS!”

Asheboro Superintendent Aaron Woody thought he was to get an award, but instead, Truitt and Sen. Dave Craven (R) brought out a huge Ed McMahon-style check.

School districts can get grants from the fund for as much as $42 million for elementary schools, $52 million for middle, and $62 million for high schools. Randolph County needed to commit at least 15 percent in matching funds to be considered, but the application committed more than 17 percent, which helped with getting the grant approved.

The DPI considered a number of factors when approving awards including how many students would be impacted, if the program is career-oriented, and, especially, if the projects are shovel ready. Once funds are officially allocated sometime in February, the district will have two years to begin construction.

Planned investment in CTE programs are especially significant to getting a grant approved. With Asheboro seeing significant state investment into projects from Wolfspeed, Toyota and Vinfast, the expansion of workforce development opportunities was one the DPI was eager to fund.

“This is a wonderful day for ACS, our students, and our community. The team that put together the grant obviously did a fantastic job expressing the needs of SAMS,” said ACS school board member Gidget Kidd to Randolph Record. The grant will help “revitalize the facility, expand accessibility for more students, increase access to technology, and create new CTE and workforce development opportunities for students.”

The importance of CTE on student growth was echoed by Superintendent Truitt. “We know the impact these critical spaces have on student well-being as well as student preparedness for postgraduate success,” she said.

With some $400 million to award, DPI has received more than $1 billion worth of grant applications from North Carolina school districts. Over the past three years, the General Assembly has put more than $1 billion into the fund, on top of lottery proceeds already allocated to all of the state’s school districts.

By Jordan Golson