Southwest Wake News

Apex High could be torn down, rebuilt

A Wake County schools proposal to do more thorough renovations on Apex High School could delay the opening of the new Green Level High School in Cary and force Apex students and teachers off campus longer.

The original plan called for Apex High classes to relocate to Green Level High, being built on Roberts Road in west Cary, for the 2017-18 school year while Apex’s campus is being renovated. When the renovations are complete, students would move back to Apex, and the new school would open as Green Level High.

But Wake County Public School System officials learned this month that they could tear down the building and rebuild it for $1.6 million more. The new plan was presented to the school board Tuesday, Jan. 19.

“We’re excited,” Apex High principal Diann Kearney said. “It’s certainly needed.”

Rebuilding also would allow officials to shrink the school’s footprint by about 25 percent by going to a four-story layout, according to a school board presentation. That would put classrooms closer together and free up room for more parking or other uses.

However, that more ambitious project would take two years, and it would mean pushing the opening of Green Level High School from 2018 to 2019. Green Level is being built to alleviate crowding at Panther Creek High School.

The school board officially backed the plan, despite some concerns over how it might affect students in west Cary.

“Right now we’re using Green Hope High as an overflow for Panther Creek while it’s capped, but I would imagine Green Hope is getting close to not being able to absorb many more Panther Creek students,” board member Susan Evans said at the Jan. 19 meeting.

“We’re going to have to think outside the box for looking around for facilities or student assignment for all those folks – how we find overflow space for schools in that area,” Evans said.

That’s the main issue, because the costs of the two plans for Apex aren’t far apart.

The one-year renovation would cost $69 million, officials said. The two-year rebuilding would cost $70.6 million.

Apex’s 40-year-old campus has been plagued for years by bugs and crumbling infrastructure. Students, parents and teachers frequently complain, with the roaches even becoming a running joke among students on social media.

Kearny took command at Apex a year ago and said she previously worked at Sanderson High School when it had to move to a temporary campus. She has some experience in dealing with any issues that could pop up at a temporary location.

“Our goal is to minimize the impact of the move on school spirit, on parents, on athletics, things like that,” she said.

The school board and Wake County Commissioners will meet Feb. 3 to discuss funding for the costlier two-year plan. They still would have met to discuss the one-year plan because the 2013 school bond covers only part of the less expensive one-year renovation plan.

Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran