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Wednesday June 7th

Deconstruction necessary before school can be built

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The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School district will soon begin clearing the path for a new elementary school in Northside.

Local school officials said workers will begin deconstructing several buildings at the site next week to make way for the new school, temporarily called Elementary School 11.

The school is set to open by August 2013, said Todd LoFrese, assistant superintendent for support services.

The proposed site, located between Caldwell Street and McMasters Street, is home to several unused public buildings and parking spaces.

LoFrese said the deconstruction process is planned to be carried out in a sustainable manner.

“We’ll be sorting and shipping a lot of the building materials to recyclers in construction or other industries,” LoFrese said. “The bricks, concrete, steel and wood — we’ll be steering it away from the landfill.”

Habitat for Humanity will have access to the site and will be able to recycle windows and doors from the deconstruction for their housing projects, LoFrese said.

The finished school building, designed by Moseley Architects, will be operationally sustainable and will meet the district’s high performance building standards.

Steve Triggiano, senior associate at Moseley Architects, said the school has several green features, such as a rainwater cistern that will collect water for flushing toilets, photo-voltaic solar panels that will be used to heat water, and an interactive “dashboard” in the lobby to monitor energy use.

“(The dashboard) is an LED monitor showing the students how much energy they are using, for their lights, for their computers, for kitchen equipment,” Triggiano said.

LoFrese said the school district has been authorized to spend up to $2.1 million in order to generate sufficient cash flow to begin the project.

Orange County will ultimately reimburse the school for those funds and pay for the entire project, which is slated to cost just more than $21 million, LoFrese said.

Construction bids will be accepted starting Jan. 31, and construction should begin in March, LoFrese said.

Stephanie Knott, spokeswoman for the school district, said the school will bring a positive after-school atmosphere to Northside.

“It will certainly bring all of the rich kinds of opportunities that go on at a school,” Knott said. “Parent education nights, multicultural nights, programs in which students perform the arts — all of those kind of things will occur.”

The plans for a new school began in 2008, but the need became urgent after enrollment spiked this school year.

“Indications of a spike in enrollment started in late July and early August with registration,” LoFrese said.

Enrollment numbers were nearing 105 percent capacity, the school district’s maximum, he said.

If the district reaches that threshold, the county would have to freeze residential development in the area in accordance with the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.

If officials hadn’t been pressured by enrollment figures, it is unlikely the school would have opened before 2014, Knott said.

She said the school will also be available for local groups to rent space for meetings.

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