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The Daily Tar Heel

New School Sites Discussed

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education proposed four potential locations in the southern part of town, with three located off Smith Level Road and the fourth near U.S. 15-501.

Orange County Commissioner Margaret Brown said the board is considering the possibility of a site in the northern area of Chapel Hill. "It is on a 200-acre plot of land that the commission purchased three months ago. It's located on the corner of Old N.C. 86 and Eubanks Road," Brown said.

She said the northern site would fit well with the county's co-location of parks and schools policy.

"This means that there would be lots of athletic and playing fields for public as well as school use, saving construction and utility funds," Brown said.

Superintendent Neil Pedersen said that when selecting sites, the school board must consider certain specifications to meet county requirements.

"It has to be a certain size, probably a minimum of 50 acres, and there are other considerations such as how easy it would be to build on it, access to water, sewer and other utilities," Pedersen said. "Of course, there is always the concern of geographic location and equal school distribution, which is why we are looking at the southern sites. The slate that the commission was referring to is even further north than Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill high schools."

He also said the school board is looking to solve the issue of overcrowding within the next 10 years.

"Roughly, we would like to have a new high school somewhere between 2005 and 2007," Pedersen said.

But funding for a new high school is not included in the $75 million bond referendum, which voters will consider Nov. 6. "Funds would not come for another four years or so, when there is another bond referendum," he said. "By that time, we would be about 800 students over capacity in our two high schools, so to make do, we've proposed temporary facilities and small, permanent units until the money is available."

Brown said in response to financial concerns, the commissioners have provided the school board with $2 million to fund site acquisition and planning. "It's planning money that would probably be directed at all the preliminary work to be done for a school to be built on a site."

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