When Wake County school officials talk about the need for more schools to accommodate a growing student population, they often mention places like Holly Springs or North Raleigh.
But they’re also looking east as they anticipate the next wave of school construction. In recent years, the school system has been purchasing more sites in East Raleigh because of growth in that part of the city and in eastern Wake County.
School officials on Monday told the county’s Board of Commissioners that they’ve found a $2.1 million site off Poole Road that could accommodate both a high-priority elementary school that’s already on the books and a future middle school.
“This particular site is intended to address crowding and future projected growth,” said Betty Parker, real estate services director for the school system.
The student population in the area is expected to grow year after year until 2018, then pick up even more from 2018 to 2022, she said.
The elementary school would open in 2017. Elementary schools within the target ring for the school include Barwell Road, Hodge Road, Lockhart and Walnut Creek, some of which are expected to be overcrowded in the coming years.
The middle school would be built at a later date.
Highway improvements in eastern Wake have supported residential development that continues to move eastward. The more residential development, the fewer tracts of land that can support an elementary school, let alone a middle school, Parker said.
The school board approved the purchase of the 50-acre site in November, pending funding approval by the Board of Commissioners.
The site includes two parcels: 45 acres on Poole Road near Barwell Road with a street address of 6120 Poole Road and 4.59 adjoining acres on Barwell Road with a street address of 1920 Barwell Road.
“This gives us an opportunity to not only meet the current elementary school need but to land bank the future middle school site as well while we’re at today’s prices rather than tomorrow’s prices,” Parker said.
County staff said Monday the site meets the needs of the school system. The commissioners could vote on the deal as soon as their May 18 meeting.
Commissioner Jessica Holmes said it’s a smart move to buy the site now.
“As we all know, land in Wake County is getting scarcer and expensive,” she said.
The elementary school is part of a $810 million bond referendum voters approved in 2013 to build 15 new schools and renovate six others.