The Wake County school board has approved an agreement with the YMCA of the Triangle to develop a joint elementary school and YMCA facility in an effort to help revitalize Southeast Raleigh.
The new school will be part of a complex off Rock Quarry Road near Interstate 40 that includes more than 70 units of affordable housing and space that could include a health care facility and a grocery store. The 500-student school could open in 2019.
Organizers hope the joint project will break the cycle of inter-generational poverty in Southeast Raleigh, one of the most economically depressed parts of Wake County. Student test scores in Southeast Raleigh are also well below the district average.
“It’s going to be a great addition to the community,” said school board member Keith Sutton, whose district includes much of Southeast Raleigh. “The location is an excellent one that’s right off the interstate and in the heart of Southeast Raleigh, and I think will help so many students and families and parts of the community.”
The development agreement approved by the school board on Tuesday will go to the Wake County Board of Commissioners for a vote on Jan. 3. Commissioners have also been supportive of the proposal.
The YMCA purchased the former Watson’s Flea Market in Southeast Raleigh and wants the school system’s help in providing area children with a comprehensive education from birth to college.
The joint school/YMCA would include amenities such as a gymnasium beyond what Wake typically would provide and a swimming pool, which is not part of the elementary school model. But the school would still remain under the control of the school system.
Since the site is owned by the YMCA, the school system turned to a public-private partnership allowed under state law to build the school. The YMCA will be the developer and provide the construction funding in return for the school system leasing use of the facility.
“The Y looks forward to the collective impact this project will have on children and families in Southeast Raleigh and beyond,” said Jon Mills, regional vice president of the YMCA of the Triangle. “We have dreamed about this for many years.”