A Wake County school board committee recommended Wednesday names for three new schools that will open in the next few years in Raleigh, Morrisville and Cary.
The school board’s facilities committee supported using Barton Pond Elementary as the name for a school officially opening in northwest Raleigh in 2021. The committee also backed Alston Ridge Middle as the name for a school opening in Cary in 2019 and Parkside Elementary as the name for a school opening in Morrisville in 2019.
The names will go the full school board for approval in January.
School administrators gave the board committee three choices for each school.
For the Raleigh school, which has been called E-24, the choices were Strickland Road, Barton Pond and Snipe Creek. It’s located at 12004 Strickland Road near the intersection with Baileywick Road.
There’s a pond on the property that flows eventually up into Barton Creek. Snipe Creek was proposed because the school is located by Hare Snipe Creek, but that choice was quickly shot down.
“We recommended Snipe Creek Elementary because you always need a less attractive option to consider,” said Betty Parker, Wake’s senior director of real estate services, as board members laughed.
School board member Roxie Cash said more people have heard of Strickland Road. But Cash went along with other board members who supported using Barton Pond.
E-24 will officially open in 2021 after spending two years temporarily housing students first from Stough Elementary and later York Elementary while their campuses are renovated.
For the Morrisville school, which has been called E-50, the choices were Little Drive, Parkside Valley and Research Triangle Park. The school is located on Little Drive and Parkside Valley Drive is one of the roads people will use to enter the school.
Although the school has a Morrisville mailing address, it’s actually in the jurisdiction of Research Triangle Park.
The school board had purchased the land in 2015 from the Research Triangle Park Foundation of North Carolina. Parker said one of the conditions of the contract was that the school board consider using Research Triangle Park in the elementary school’s name.
But school board Vice Chairwoman Christine Kushner said she’s concerned about using that name when two charter schools already have Research Triangle Park in their names.
School board member Bill Fletcher said using Research Triangle Park could suggest some type of programming for the school that Wake isn’t ready to commit to yet.
Parker said the Research Triangle Park Foundation is looking at helping with the programming at the new school. But Parker told the committee there were no strings attached to the Foundation’s willingness to participate.
“I think the Foundation would be supportive regardless of the name,” added Fletcher, the chairman of the board’s facilities committee.
Parkside soon got the committee’s support. Board members said they wanted to drop the word “valley” from the school’s name to make it less cumbersome.
“Parkside might be considered by the Foundation to be a reference to, proximity to and participation with the Park without accepting the full name,” Parker said. “It might be seen as an indicator to them of our willingness to work with them.”
School board members Jim Martin and Lindsay Mahaffey said they’d be willing to reconsider the name after it’s determined what the programming will be.
For the west Cary school, which has been called M-16, the choices were Alston Ridge, Winding Pine and Cartecay Drive. It’s located on Winding Pine Trail and is close to Alston Ridge Elementary School.
Parker said Cartecay Drive is expected to be extended and would be one of the entrances for the school.
But board members and staff noted how some in the community have already gotten into the habit of calling it Alston Ridge Middle School.
“Given the history of the site, it would be unwise to do anything but Alston Ridge Middle,” Martin said.
Mahaffey asked though if naming it Alston Ridge Middle would commit the school to have the same calendar as Alston Ridge Elementary. The elementary school is on the multi-track year-round calendar while the middle school is scheduled to open on the traditional calendar.
School assignment staff have talked about the possibility of converting Alston Ridge Elementary to a traditional calendar when the middle school opens. But some parents have lobbied for the middle school to open as a year-round school to match the elementary school’s calendar.
Martin said it would feel odd for schools that are so close to each other to be on different calendars. But the board hasn’t officially made the decision yet on whether the two schools will be on the same calendar.
Mahaffey asked if they could consider using Alston Pond as the name after being told there’s a pond on the site. But Mahaffey, whose district includes the school site, said she was okay with using one of the three names suggested by staff.
Mahaffey noted that people would have to drive by Alston Ridge Elementary to get to the middle school.
“In the community it’s going to be Alston Ridge Middle School no matter what the sign post says,” Fletcher added.