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Superintendent Catherine Truitt presents a check to Asheboro City Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Woody on Tuesday.    Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub


ASHEBORO — It was a secret so big the state superintendent of public instruction had to reveal it in person with an oversized check.


Catherine Truitt arrived in Asheboro on Jan. 30, where a large group of city and county officials had been summoned by NC Sen. Dave Craven to Summey Engineering, 150 S. Fayetteville St., Asheboro. The state’s top school official told them that Asheboro City Schools has been approved for a Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund Grant of $29,728,490. 


Dr. Aaron Woody, superintendent of Asheboro City Schools, who had been kept in the dark about the grant, was ecstatic upon hearing the news.


“I thank you so much,” he said. “I always tell people that something special is happening in Randolph County. Dr (Stephen) Gainey (superintendent of the Randolph County School System) and the county schools work well with me. That’s the kind of thing that’s done with the community.”


Craven said, “We’re honored (the state) chose Asheboro for this grant.”


Truitt said the funds will go to renovate South Asheboro Middle School (SAMS), which needs upgrading to meet changing educational and safety needs. Woody said the work would likely begin this coming summer.


The grant had to be applied for and a match from the county was a condition. Darrell Frye, chair of the Board of County Commissioners, said they knew about the grant application and had been prepared to contribute the local match of 15 percent or nearly $5 million. 


Despite the local match, Woody said the grant will mean “a great tax savings” to the people of Randolph County.


“I’m so grateful for Superintendent Truitt, the things she’s brought for innovations (in public schools),” Woody said, hailing “the vision from the state for school kids.”


Truitt said, “This couldn’t be possible without the Legislature. I believe what we’re doing is going to change things — this partnership with the Legislature, the Department of Public Instruction and local leaders.


“And the local match from the county is crucial,” she added. “Sen. Dave made sure I knew of the local support.”


Frye, who is a member of the NC Association of County Commissioners, told of another county that had to come up with a similar match the next day, and wound up losing the grant. “This has been in the works for months,” he said.


According to Sandra Spivey Ayers, chief financial officer for Asheboro City Schools, SAMS was built in 1962 with a small addition in 2001 for a total of 97,300 square feet. 


Ayers listed some of the areas of concern to be addressed:

— American Disabilities Act accessibility throughout the building, including an elevator to access multiple levels of the building.

— Updated infrastructure to include HVAC, plumbing and electrical.  

— Increased electrical capacity to support technology.

— Increased cafeteria seating capacity.

— Secure entrance.

— Expanded Career and Technical Education learning spaces.