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The Daily Tar Heel

Bond Tagged for 3rd High School

Faced with a burgeoning high school population, the district elected to move funds previously allocated for a 10th elementary school toward a new high school.

The resolution now moves to the Orange County Board of Commissioners for approval. The school board is considering several sites for the new high school, which is slated to open for the 2005-06 academic year. Plans call for the school to accommodate 1,000 students while allowing for expansion to 1,500 students.

Among the possible locations for the high school are several sites off of Smith Level Road in the southern part of the district and a site near N.C. 86 and Eubanks Road, north of Chapel Hill.

Board member Nick Didow said district employees are preparing reports on the sites to be presented to the board in the near future.

Didow said because some areas in the southern portion of the county do not have water and sewer access, the urban services boundary line might have to be shifted to accommodate the new school.

One resolution passed Thursday states that if the board chooses one of the potential sites to the east of Smith Level Road, it will ask the Chapel Hill Town Council to consider shifting the line to include more properties -- solely for the purposes of the district, he said.

School board member Lisa Stuckey said that with a high population density and a large base of elementary-aged children in southern Orange, this region would be best for the third high school.

"I would very much prefer a southern site if that's possible," Stuckey said.

The board also agreed to work with the county commissioners to design a funding plan for the district's fifth middle school, slated to open between 2005 and 2007, and a 10th elementary school, scheduled to open between 2006 and 2010. "We do not have funding currently lined up for that (middle) school," Didow said. "We will work in partnership with the county commissioners for a funding plan."

Didow said the commissioners asked the school board to lay out its capital needs at the bodies' joint meeting in September, as this is what they attempted to accomplish with the resolutions passed last week. But he said that plans, especially those included in the latter years of proposed capital development, are subject to change.

The district also elected to convert the Lincoln Center, the administrative building, into a magnet high school to accommodate up to 500 students.

A new administrative building would be constructed across from Chapel Hill High School on Homestead Road, based on plans.

Kim Hoke, spokeswoman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said the Lincoln Center is a good location for a magnet facility because of its proximity to UNC and other resources. "For it to be an alternative high school ... seems like a logical solution," Hoke said.

She said with the district's student population doubling since the 1980s, leaders are trying to accommodate this surge in enrollment. "It sounds like an aggressive plan to meet the needs of a growing student population."

The City Editor can be reached


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