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Halifax County Schools Thursday received a $39,083,000 check which will be applied to building a new Eastman School in the western part of the county.

The check was presented by state Representative Michael Wray.

The pre-K through 8 school “will allow each student access to a full continuum of services” as well as increase “academics, social outcomes, and community engagement,” the school system said.

“This is a situation where the community is in dire need of a new school for the children who reside in this part of the county,” Wray said. “It will transform into the 21st century with technology and additional resources that will greatly benefit the students of Halifax County Schools.” 

Halifax County Commissioner Carolyn Johnson said, “This is phenomenal for this community. When (Superintendent) Dr. (Eric) Cunningham and his team made their presentation concerning the application, we knew that this was a good application. We knew it was an application worthy of funding, so it was no surprise that Halifax County Schools received the North Carolina Public Schools Needs Based Grant. The leadership there is phenomenal, and we look forward to greater and better things”.

Cunningham expressed his gratitude to Wray for his support of Halifax County Schools. “The additional funding presented by Representative Wray will allow us to continue to make a tremendous difference in our students, staff, families, and community.” 

Halifax County School Board Chair Tyus Few said, “It is a blessing for this community because schools are the heart of a community. It is outstanding that they are going to receive this gift. We pray they continue to support Halifax County Schools and all we are trying to do for the children.” 

Vice Chair Joyce Lashley said, “I am thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this. We thank Representative Wray for working with the General Assembly to get this funded for us. We are appreciative, and we are looking for great things to come from this area.”

Discussions earlier this year with county commissioners brought out that the new school will have a capacity of 620 students. The new school will consolidate Hollister and Pittman elementary schools.

The school is proposed to be built on the former Eastman school site.

The critical need, according to a synopsis presented at the time, is the district has two small and aging elementary schools that serve the western portion of the county. As a result of the geography of the district and the building capacity of the next nearest elementary schools, consolidation is not an option.

The description said at the current schools the students have limited access to resources such as multiple types of enhancement teachers, a school counselor, media center specialist, and a school nurse. Small school sizes compel the district to allocate core staff members to each school to avoid combination classes to ensure students’ needs are met. Thus increased staffing costs are limiting the school district’s resources to fully develop a whole child educational program for every student of Halifax County Schools.

The synopsis explained that middle school students in the western part of the county often have bus rides over an hour each way to William R. Davie Middle School outside Roanoke Rapids “which leads to a portion of families opting for charter schools in neighboring counties.