Although the future home of Hortons Creek Elementary now looks like a vast expanse of uneven dirt, Wake County’s newest school will help the district keep up with the influx of families deciding to call Cary home.
On Tuesday, June 7, school and Wake County officials broke ground at 2374 Yates Store Road for the 102,598-square-foot elementary school that’s set to be ready for the 2017-18 school year.
“This is a really growing, bustling area with lots of new families,” said Susan Evans, the Wake County Board of Education member whose district covers the area. “So it will be an exciting thing to have this school right in the community, and I know the community will really embrace it.”
She said Hortons Creek will relieve crowding at Alston Ridge Elementary to the north and Mills Park Elementary to the south. The two-story building will open in August 2017 with a capacity of 900 students. It will operate on a traditional calendar.
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The main topic of the morning, however, was the need for new schools to accommodate the popularity of the Cary area.
School board member Bill Fletcher said Hortons Creek is just one of several new elementary schools in western Wake County that are set to open before the 2017-18 year. He said they will open up 8,000 seats for elementary-aged children in Wake County, but there’s still a need for 16,000 more.
“The goal is that we’ll be able to stay up with growth and perhaps gain on it just a little bit,” Fletcher said.
Matt Calabria, a member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, said the county is growing at a rate of 60 people a day.
“Our task is not only to keep up, but to do so in a way that not only maintains, but improves quality of life and improves our educational offerings,” he said. “We’ve got to do that for tomorrow’s population with the resources and commitment of today’s population.”
The county commissioners are in charge of funding for the school’s construction.
“We’re very happy to provide the resources necessary to build these schools and working very closely with the school board to make sure our school construction plans meet our needs,” Calabria said.
Construction money for new schools comes most often from the local community, Calabria said, and the $29.1 million cost of Hortons Creek is funded mainly by tax revenues and bonds.
“It takes a village to raise a child, it takes at least a village to build a school,” he said after thanking the crew and officials, just before they picked up gold shovels for the symbolic groundbreaking.
In the end, Calabria said, it’s easy to get lost in the technicalities and numbers, but the most important thing to remember about new schools is that they provide more opportunities for local children.
“Yes, there’s a lot of bricks and there’s a lot of mortar, but all that is really a setting for the magic that’s going to happen here,” Calabria said. “We know that these schools may not necessarily be where our youngest citizens achieve their dreams, but they are the place where our youngest citizens learn to have dreams.”
Paige Connelly: 919-460-2609, @pconnellly