County school leaders are hoping that the third time is the charm for a $40 million dollar grant application.
Commissioners gave the school system the nod Monday night to apply for a needs-based grant from the state that would fund the largest school in the county, if the grant is approved.
In 2021, the county applied for a $38 million grant, but was turned down.
The K-8 campus would replace three schools in the east and serve more than 900 students. Acme-Delco Elementary and Hallsboro Primary would close, along with the middle school currently housed at East Columbus Junior Senior High. The total cost for the school is just over $45 million.
Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Williams said, the county will be responsible for around $5 million in matching funds.
The school will have the same floor plan as the new Tabor City and West Columbus schools. The buildings will have different appearances Williams said, but by using the current plans, the county will save some design costs.
Williams noted that new rules allow the county to apply every year, without sharing with Whiteville City Schools. The city schools’ budget worked against the county in a previous grant cycle.
Only four applications to the state were rewarded for new projects last year, Williams said.
Williams said that while Columbus does require a five percent match, some counties have a zero match requirement. “It is a needs based grant,” Williams said. “We’re here, we’re optimistic.”