CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board is considering a new renovation plan that will cost more than $160.8 million to repair 10 of its aging facilities and add more space for a growing student population.
The renovation plan, if approved by the school board, will require a bond referendum.
The architectural firm which produced the estimate originally formulated three repair plans, with costs falling between $52 million and more than $215 million—the higher the costs, the more extensive the repairs. This left it up to the discretion of the board to weigh its available funds versus the necessity of the repairs.
However, Ashley Dennis of Moseley Architects explained to the Board at its retreat Tuesday that it has been determined that the firm needed to reassess its estimates, in order to factor in additional costs.
Dennis said the $160.84 million estimate was a more realistic figure. It would include $2.98 million in temporary facilities costs to house students during the construction phases.
“It wasn’t fair to just come in and say, ‘Look at these pretty pictures. You can do this.’ You couldn’t just do it. You really would have to think about where the kids would go and where the staff would go.”
With the proposed renovations, district officials have said that it would delay the need for building a new elementary school, saving money in the short term.
The new plan places Carrboro Elementary School as the top priority, allocating $13.55 million for improvements such as a new wing and an increased capacity of 52 seats.
Dennis shared that Chapel Hill High School was the most challenging campus to evaluate due to issues such as its size, multiple building layout, and deteriorated building conditions. The cost for the work at the high school is estimated to be $54.51 million, the highest of all ten proposed renovation projects.
The renovations would increase the capacity by 105 seats, which Dennis explained would postpone the need for additions by the 2023-2024 school year by a cost of $24.1 million.
“I guess our question is if it is worth it, or should we just be tearing it down and starting it over?”said Jamezetta Bedford, Chair of the Board.
Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese said the Board needed more clarification on the $160.8 million new renovation plan before taking a formal vote of approval.
On a date still to be determined, the Board will hold a work session to discuss the plan.
LoFrese said he hoped to have a proposal ready to go before the Orange County Commissioners within two months.