Wilkes County and N.C. House Leaders Host School Bond Forum

Raleigh, N.C. – Members of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education joined state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and local Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes) at a school bond forum and facilities tour at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School in Ferguson, N.C. on Friday. 

Wilkes County Board of Education Chairman Rudy Holbrook and Vice-Chairman Sharron Huffman joined Superintendent Mark Byrd, Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Elmore, Commissioner Brian Minton, and County Manager John Yates, at the event on Friday.

State Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), a Republican from North Wilkesboro, is an elementary school art teacher and co-chair of the House Committee on Education Appropriations and the House Education K-12 Committee.

“We hosted this event for the local community, for the public to give input on the need for school construction resources in Wilkes County and across the high country of North Carolina,” Rep. Elmore said.

“Just like we talk about bridging regional divides in economic development and transportation infrastructure, connecting the needs of urban and rural education communities is essential for the success of North Carolina’s school systems.”   

Speaker Tim Moore said having a public school teacher in the House of Representatives is a great opportunity to get input straight from educators:

“I think it’s a big benefit to have experienced teachers like Rep. Elmore at the table in the legislature, sharing what they’ve learned helping students in the classroom,” Moore said.

“This school bond tour is about listening to local leaders who confront the opportunities and challenges of providing a 21st century education to North Carolina students every day in our state.” 

“I appreciate Rep. Elmore hosting us in Wilkes County to hear from he and his fellow educators about what school construction assistance would mean to their community.”

Speaker Moore also held January school bond forums at Erwin Elementary School in Harnett County and South Columbus High School in Tabor City, N.C.

Wilkes County leaders were supportive of a statewide school construction bond proposal at the event on Friday.

“There’s no better place to put your money than education,” said Superintendent Mary Byrd. 

Mt. Pleasant Elementary School Principal Kristine Kennington said her facilities date back to the 1950s.

“We are fixing things over and over multiple times,” Kennington said.  “The day-to-day maintenance gets done but the large scale things we can’t afford, like replacing the roof, it just gets patched and patched and now it’s full of patches.” 

Wilkes County Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Elmore said local school systems need flexibility with funds from a school construction bond and would benefit from supplementing operational funds with capital resources:

“Sometimes we have money in capital that we could use for operations,” Chairman Elmore said. 

Commissioner Brian Minton said improving learning in schools required capital investments in school safety:

“We’ve got to get our schools safer to get learning back into our schools,” Minton said.

Chairman Rudy Holbrook of the Wilkes County Board of Education also said school safety was a major priority of capital investments for his school system since schools like Mt. Pleasant still have exterior walkways for students:

“We’ve done all we can with the financial things that we have,” Holbrook said.  “We need some help to get them safe, that’s the main thing.  You can walk down here and you can see this school is not closed off.” 

Rep. Elmore said the school construction bond proposal from the state House will allow local leaders to decide where to put capital resources:

“When you are looking at what to spend the money on, that’s up to you,” Elmore said.  “The reason the bond if an effective way to do that is when local leaders look at capital improvement plans and see what is the greatest need, they can work on that financing package together for their students.”