Relocations impact Wake County families during school renovations

The price that students, parents and teachers at 11 Wake County schools will pay to have their aging campuses rebuilt is to have to spend time off site during the construction work.

Wake school leaders say the construction work at those 11 schools is so extensive that the campuses need to be emptied, resulting in students and staff going to temporary locations called “swing space” sites. But the temporary locations can be several miles away from the current campus, disrupting family schedules.

On Tuesday, parents from Stough Elementary thanked school board members for approving a $35 million reconstruction of the Raleigh school, calling it “a long time coming.” But they urged the school board to find a closer alternative than sending their children to a location that’s more than nine miles away from Stough.

Stough is on Edwards Mill Road near Crabtree Valley Mall. The district is considering moving students and staff to a site on Spring Forest Road next to East Millbrook Middle School during the 2018-19 school year.

“We’re very concerned that a year away at Spring Forest Road will cause serious damage to the momentum that we’ve created and cause the next generation of families to choose not to come to Stough because they’re concerned with this distance,” said Mark Williamson, co-PTA president.

Stough received a Mandarin Chinese language immersion program in 2014 as part of an effort to attract the many families who live near the school who’ve chosen other options such as private schools, charter schools and other magnet schools. Students in the program spend much of the day learning and speaking Mandarin.

Williamson said that Spring Forest Road is so far away from Stough that neighborhood families may choose other alternatives. He presented a petition with 231 signatures urging the school system to give time for other alternative sites to be found. But at the same time, Williamson said families want the new building ready as soon as possible.

The board responded Tuesday by not selecting a swing space site for Stough when it approved the design for the construction work. In the meantime, board members and Stough parents said they’re hopeful that community members will offer closer sites than Spring Forest Road.

Some renovations at Raleigh schools have been delayed over the past decade due to difficulty finding places to relocate students during the work. Wake is now resorting to steps such as moving Wiley Elementary students to a site in Garner in 2018 and delaying the opening of a new elementary school in northwest Raleigh by a year so that York Elementary students can go there.

In addition to looking for alternative sites, board members said they’ll also improve transportation to the Spring Forest Road site. School board member Christine Kushner said that some families at Brooks Elementary have complained about the difficulty getting to Spring Forest Road, which the school is using while its campus is being rebuilt.

“I’m glad we’re taking more time to look at all of our options,” said Kushner, whose district includes Stough.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

Schools on the move

Students and staff at several Wake County schools are scheduled to temporarily relocate while their campuses are renovated.

▪ Brooks Elementary to Spring Forest Road modular campus, 2016-17

▪ Garner High School to new South Garner High, 2016-18

▪ Apex High to new Green Level High, 2017-19

▪ Vandora Springs Elementary to new Bryan Road Elementary, 2017-18

▪ Stough Elementary to Spring Forest Road, 2018-19

▪ Wiley Elementary to Garner High School’s current ninth grade-center, 2018-19

▪ Fuquay-Varina High to new Willow Spring High, 2019-21

▪ North Ridge Elementary to Spring Forest Road, 2019-20

▪ York Elementary to new elementary at Strickland Road, 2019-20

▪ Conn Elementary to Spring Forest Road, 2020-21

▪ Wendell Elementary to TBD site