Swing Space – (Not the Dancing Kind)

On Jan. 19, the Board of Education received an update on renovation plans for Apex High.  Staff recommended a full teardown and rebuild ($70.6 million) rather than a partial teardown and rebuild ($69 million).

One issue that must be addressed is how long a relocated Apex High will have to reside in swing space.

When an existing school is renovated (or completely demolished for a rebuild), it must be relocated during construction.  This is mostly accomplished by using new construction at ideally a close location.  For example, Garner High will be renovated during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.  During that time, it will relocate to the new South Garner High facility located a few miles away.  South Garner High will open for students during the 2018-19 school year, the same time Garner High moves back to its original location.

Swing space is a well-orchestrated use of available space for new construction, remodeling, and managing growth in student population.  And it happens with great frequency in WCPSS, the largest school system in North Carolina and the fifteenth largest school system in the United States.

Apex High will relocate to a newly constructed Green Level high for two years.  The issue is that using Green Level High as swing space for longer than anticipated (one year rather than two) delays relief in overcrowding at Panther Creek High and Green Hope High.  Laura Evans, Senior Director of Student Assignment, noted that there are major concerns about capacity at these two schools.  Evans mentioned that 1,000 additional high school students are expected in the Panther Creek base area, all located west of Highway 55.  One solution under consideration is a ninth grade center at Green Level High to handle some of that capacity while Apex High is still onsite.

When school enrollment projections were revised downward this past fall, many wondered whether or not the school system still needed all the schools it planned to build.  The answer is (still) a resounding yes.  As school board member Bill Fletcher stated, “we have greater facility needs than we have construction dollars.”

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