New schools now welcome in Garner

07/08/2013 1:57 PM

07/08/2013 1:59 PM

Garner could have a new high school and new elementary school in a few years, a condition it fought a few years ago under slightly different conditions.

A proposed Wake County Public School System bond measure would build several new schools around Wake County, including two that would be part of Garner: a new high school on Clifford Road and an elementary school on Bryan Road.

Five years ago Ronnie Williams and other town leaders had fought what they felt would be places for the county to dump low-income students from Raleigh. The resistance irked members of the Wake County school board and activists from Southeast Raleigh. Now he says the schools are needed.

The proposed Bryan Road Elementary School had initially been scheduled to open in 2009, but was never built. Garner’s Board of Aldermen delayed permit approval, citing concerns that the district would assign too many poor students from outside of town to the school. Similar concerns arose about a new high school.

High rates of poverty among student bodies have been consistently linked by studies to poor-performing schools.

The Bryan Road project is one of 11 new elementary schools funded by the bond. Design would begin in 2015 if the bond passes, WCPSS spokeswoman Samiha Khanna said. Construction would start in 2016 and the school would open in 2017.

The high school, yet to be officially named, would be ready to take Garner High overflow by 2016 and open by 2017.

Now, Williams says the schools are needed, though he said some assignment concerns remain.

“With the growth and growth patterns, there is a need for new schools,” Williams said. “I hope the public will realize there is a need for more schools and vote to pass the referendum.”

This time around, Garner had become irritated that much-needed improvements to Garner Magnet High School and Vandora Springs Elementary School had been initially left off the bond. After some outrage and lobbying, they were added back to the mix. Williams said that while the school system has other needs too, “ Garner is entitled to a piece of the pie.”

East Garner Middle School was left as the highest ranking priority in the county not addressed by the $940 million bond.

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