The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 3rd

Orange County to jump-start construction of Elementary 11

The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved funding Tuesday for an elementary school that will help alleviate overcrowding within the district.

Commissioners unanimously voted to provide funding to jump start the construction of Elementary 11, the district’s newest school.

The funding will allow Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to open the school in the Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill as early as August 2013, a year earlier than planned.

The school district will use a maximum of $2.1 million from its reserve fund for the project, and the county will repay the district for the funding.

County Manager Frank Clifton said the county will fund the project, which is expected to cost about $20.6 million, through the sale of bonds.

The board first considered speeding the time frame for constructing Elementary 11 when enrollment exceeded the district’s capacity in August.

Kevin Morgenstein Fuerst, enrollment coordinator for the district, said the over-enrollment has caused concerns among some parents and educators.

If the district reaches 105 percent capacity, or 5,506 students, the county will implement a freeze on residential development in the area in accordance with Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.

Elementary 11 is expected to provide room for an additional 500 to 600 students.

The county plans to begin construction of Elementary 11 by April.

Plans for the school include sustainable features including the use of collected rain water, utilizing natural daylight in classrooms, and a rooftop vegetated system for students to learn from.

But before they can begin building the new school, they will first have to deconstruct an existing building on the lot.

Fuerst said the redistricting of students could pose a potential conflict throughout the process.

“It’s going to create some challenges in terms of assigning students there, in the middle of a neighborhood,” he said. “It creates something of a domino effect, but that’s the fact of life.”

Despite concerns about removing students from their home school, Commissioner Barry Jacobs said he is happy to see Elementary 11 located within a residential neighborhood like Northside.

He said the district’s most recent schools have been built on the outskirts of the county.

“We’ve talked for years about trying to return schools inside municipalities,” he said. “Its nice to see it go back into a neighborhood that was so well served by it in the past.”

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