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Union Co. provides $9.6M to fix school roofs

MONROE Union County commissioners agreed this week to immediately release nearly $9.6 million to the school district so it can fix critical roofing-related needs, but the deal came with some strings attached.

The county is continuing to appeal a $91 million jury award for the school district over a budget funding dispute. Commissioners said that if they lose the appeal, the $9.6 million should be counted as going toward paying off the award.

Commissioners questioned whether the school board would be able to use the funds before the end of the fiscal year June 30. But they agreed to release the funds anyway, based on the district’s assertions of its needs.

Commissioners want to protect county assets and ensure that students are safe and comfortable, County Manager Cindy Coto said.

School board Chairman Richard Yercheck said the board will be glad to accept the money and credit it accordingly.

“I’m very excited they’ve chosen to take care of these schools because we believe it’s an emerging critical issue that had to be addressed,” Yercheck said.

He detailed the schools’ needs in a letter to commissioners that identified 23 schools and education facilities in need.

“The constant disruptions from ongoing leaks, the loss of staff time and instructional time, the health and safety needs of our students and staff, and the expectations of our parents and citizens can no longer be ignored with regard to these projects,” Yercheck wrote.

He also included a letter from the principal at Sun Valley High School, who said that students and staff returning from winter break in January encountered wet hallways and trash cans throughout the building filled with rainwater from a leaky roof. A ceiling tile saturated with rainwater above an assistant principal’s desk collapsed and destroyed a number of documents.

In October, commissioners had appropriated nearly $5.4 million for roof repairs and replacement of sections of roofs at seven schools.

Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell
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