CHAPEL HILL – Culbreth Middle School held a ceremonial “groundbreaking” Thursday as they started construction on the new $4.9 million science addition.

Bill Mullin, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Executive Vice President of School Facilities, says the project will add several new aspects to the school in addition to significantly increasing its size.

“It’s about 14,700 square feet of space that’s adding to the building, and we will increase the student capacity there at Culbreth by approximately 104 students,” Mullin says.

The new science addition will provide six new class rooms, two for each grade, and each about 50 percent larger than the old classrooms.  These classrooms will come fully stocked with equipment for science experiments.  Project architect for the science building, David Taylor, says one of the more unique features is the common room.

“We’ll have what we’re calling a science commons area, which is basically a large open space, out in front of the sixth grade class rooms, it can be a place where people can gather and wonder around and see different things going on at the school,” Taylor says.

Mullin says they hope the new science addition for the school will be finished in time for the 2014-15 school year.

“Hope that by August of this year we’ll finish and open it for the 2014-15 school year,” Mullin states.

The new science building at Culbreth Middle School will give more children the opportunity to pursue more science classes and experiment with an array of tools.  Taylor says they area adding a greenhouse to the science building that the students will be able to use.

“Down at one of the building it’ll actually be a free-standing greenhouse about 20 feet by 30 feet roughly, and so the teachers are going to take that greenhouse as part of their curriculum and be able to do experiments out side they’ve never been able to do before, and so we’re really excited about that as well,” Taylor says.

Orange County commissioners Alice Gordon, Bernadette Pelissier, Penny Rich and Chair Barry Jacobs were among the elected officials in attendance.