'More needs than we do funding,' Durham Public Schools says, citing repairs, improvements

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
'More needs than we do funding,' Durham Public Schools says
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'More needs than we do funding,' Durham Public Schools says

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Public Schools just received a $100,000 bill.

That's the estimated amount it will cost to repair the heating issues at Morehead Montessori Elementary School.

Last month, the problem forced 250 students at the school to pack up, move and learn somewhere else. Students will be displaced through mid-February or until the issue is fixed.

Also last month, Sandy Ridge Elementary was delayed for hours because of a gas odor.

On Tuesday, Morehead Principal Cynthia Webb expressed her frustrations in a joint budget meeting between Durham Public Schools and Durham County Commissioners.

"Change is hard. It's hard for children. It's hard for the adults," Webb said. "Our children deserve to have safe, modern, predictable and prepared environments."

The boards discussed how DPS will be supported during the next 10 years through county funds.

"We definitely have more needs than we do funding," said Julius Monk, DPS' chief operating officer. He told ABC11 that the district needs $727 million.

Of that amount, DPS has prioritized $460 million. The school district said it will need that money right now for immediate school renovations as well as construction to the new Northern High School and two new elementary schools in south Durham. All three are set to open by 2023.

On Tuesday, the commissioners proposed $493 million, partially funded by taxpayers through a bond referendum vote in 2022 and possibly in 2026.

County Commission chair Wendy Jacobs said Monday that DPS can start using a portion of the money budgeted right now.

"They have the confidence to know that money is there and available for them to really meet these critical repairs," Jacobs said.

DPS has 20 school projects prioritized for immediate upgrades.

They are:

  • Northern High School
  • Durham School of the Arts
  • Elementary School F
  • Jordan High School
  • Glenn Elementary School
  • Holt Elementary School
  • Bethesda Elementary School
  • Club Elementary School
  • Morehead Elementary School
  • Mangum Elementary School
  • Parkwood Elementary School
  • Eastway Elementary School
  • E K Powe Elementary School
  • Lakewood Elementary School
  • Fayetteville Street Elementary School
  • Oak Grove Elementary School
  • Hope Valley Elementary School
  • Pearsontown Elementary School
  • System wide renovations
  • High School Theater renovations

Betsy Stikeleather, whose son attends Durham School of the Arts, told ABC11 that the school has an air quality issue.

"There's a sewage situation that'll knock you off your socks when you walk by it," Stikeleather said.

Durham Public Schools just purchased 1,000 carbon monoxide detectors after the gas odor concern at Sandy Ridge Elementary.

Those detectors will be placed at various schools at a cost of $20,000.

The next joint meeting on the school district's 10-year budget is May 19.