Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Move Forward with New Elementary School

The new elementary school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system has been in the early planning stages. According to the following article, published in The Herald-Sun, school officials now have a better idea of what the school is going to be like.

CHAPEL HILL — A new elementary school scheduled to open in 2011 is still in the early planning stages, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools officials now have a better idea of what it’s going to be like. The CHCCS Board of Education in June selected a site in the Northside neighborhood for Elementary No. 11, and county commissioners approved the site on Sept. 2. Since then, a committee comprising about 25 people has been working with the architect to choose a design that will be presented to the school board Thursday for review and comment before it is submitted to the town of Chapel Hill for approval. “We’re excited that the committee has been working on this and hopeful that it will be a really good community school,” said Pam Hemminger, outgoing chairwoman of the CHCCS Board of Education. “It’s exciting to have it right in the middle of this neighborhood.”

Elementary No. 11 will be built on an eight-acre site between Caldwell and McMasters streets, where the former Orange County Training School is located. The size of the new elementary school hasn’t been determined yet, but Todd LoFrese, support services superintendent for CHCCS, said other school buildings in the county have typically been around 92,000 square feet. According to preliminary plans released by the district, one section of Elementary No. 11 would have three levels. Grades 3-5 would be on the upper level, grades 1-2 on the main level, and kindergarten and pre-kindergarten on the lower level. LoFrese explained that the plans call for the lower level to be built into the northwest portion of the site because of the way the land slopes. Northside residents have responded positively so far to having a school in their neighborhood, but the site does come with a few unique challenges. A wetlands buffer created by a stream that runs on the west side of the property restricts use to only six of the eight acres, LoFrese said, adding that a smaller site also makes it harder to find room for play areas, bus drop-offs and parent/visitor access. The architect for the project, Moseley Architects, designed the new Carrboro High School as well. Like that building, Elementary No. 11 will adhere to the district’s policies for energy conservation, water reduction, high-efficiency lighting and improved indoor air quality. LoFrese said that one of the things the committee looked at was how the building will be oriented on the site to maximize daylighting.

School board Vice Chairwoman Lisa Stuckey said the district has created better schools because of collaboration with residents, and she hopes that will also be the case with Elementary No. 11.

BY LISA A. YOUNG : The Herald-Sun