Beaufort County Schools gets $42 million grant to consolidate two elementary schools

BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Two Beaufort County elementary schools will soon become one brand new school thanks to a $42 million grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Two Beaufort County elementary schools will soon become one school in a brand-new school building after the school system was given a $42 million grant from the state.

“To get tipped off just last week to say we need to put the meeting together, you don’t necessarily know that’s the outcome but, man for sure you’re hopeful,” said Beaufort County Schools Superintendent, Matthew Cheeseman.

The two existing buildings are both over 55 years old, which Cheeseman says has raised concerns.

“What was good for people in the 60s and 70s, is not good for children right now,” Cheeseman said. “Many of your educators teaching them were not alive in the 60s and 70s so they don’t know how to operate in those old buildings.”

“Having children go to multiple different schools within elementary school is not safe and it’s not best for their learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt.

Beaufort County Schools applied for the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund grant in December 2023 to consolidate Eastern Elementary, which currently serves pre-K through 1st grade, with John Cotten Tayloe Elementary, which currently serves 2nd through 3rd grade, into a single pre-K through 3rd grade school.

“When I saw consolidation was part of the plan, I thought I could prioritize Beaufort County because they will be serving more students than many of the other applications we received,” Truitt said.

Officials said that the new school will be built on the same property that Eastern Elementary is on and will serve up to 900 students. Officials say the new school should be ready to open its doors in August of 2026.

Truitt presented the award to the school system Wednesday afternoon.

Money for grant funding comes from the North Carolina Education Lottery.