Sugar Loaf receives $5.3 Million
By: Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis
Public Information Officer
Alexander County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner announced that the district is getting $5.3 million dollars in state money to build a new gymnasium at Sugar Loaf Elementary School. The district had applied for the funding earlier, but was made aware in late September that it did not receive the money. However, after some adjustments at the state level, state superintendent Catherine Truitt told Hefner on Tuesday the district will receive the Sugar Loaf money after all.
Upgrading the gym is part of a five-year facility improvement plan for the district. Sugar Loaf Elementary opened in 1958 and was most recently updated in 2002 with six new classrooms. Pinnacle Architecture of Matthews has created a plan to build a new gymnasium, create new offices, change the old gym into a media center, and demolish the old gym at a price tag of $5.5 million dollars at Sugar Loaf. The architects reported in October they could begin the bidding process from the drawings by February if the money was available.
Hefner told the board she was delighted to spring the late-breaking information on them at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. Board members gasped at the news. District 4’s Anthony McLain credited prior board members who supported the project as the reason for the award.
Sugar Loaf principal Joe Mabry also acknowledged prior efforts saying, “It was a lot of hard work prior to me coming to Sugar Loaf, so there’s a lot of folks who deserve a lot of credit for making this happen and getting this ball rolling, so I think it’s great for the students, staff, and parents of Sugar Loaf. It’s a great day for Sugar Loaf.”
Mabry says the renovations and updates will be good for learning.
“It’ll be a larger gym, full sized gym, which currently we do not have. Our media center is also small and cramped, so it will open up more room for students, more room for staff, for students to collaborate and bring other opportunities into our school,” says Mabry.
Superintendent Truitt says, "In creating larger, more modern gathering spaces, we increase opportunities for students to learn together, collaborate with one another and grow. I look forward to seeing the progress made in the years to come and visiting this school in person!”
The money will come from the state’s Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. Funding for buildings and improvements falls under the responsibility of the counties according to state law. From time to time, the state releases grant money for capital projects. Most recently, Alexander County Schools received $1.38 million dollars for a new roof at Bethlehem Elementary from the state fund. Director of Facilities Chris Campbell worked with the finance department to apply for both awards.
The needs-based funding is money the state takes off the top of lottery proceeds and awards to districts. Alexander County often is eligible for state funding that other districts do not get because it’s considered a Tier Two county. The tier designation is based on the median county income, average unemployment rate, and property tax base. The county will be expected to contribute five percent of matching money to complete the Sugar Loaf project.