A controversial issue is set to go before the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools Board of Education on Thursday.
The CHCCS board will work toward finding a solution to a crucial infrastructure question on Thursday night. Should the district use bond money to finance a project to redevelop the Lincoln Center that houses administrative offices and consolidate pre-K classes or address widely understood needs at Chapel Hill High School?
The $72 million in bond funding approved by Orange County voters in November 2016 was expected to cover both projects. But bids on the Lincoln Center renovations came in at approximately $10 million over the $25 million estimate school officials were budgeting.
At a meeting with the Orange County Board of Commissioners late last month, CHCCS assistant superintendent Todd LoFrese acknowledged the issues present at Chapel Hill High School.
“I think Chapel Hill High is the building that’s in worst condition of all of our projects,” LoFrese told the commissioners. “We’ve had flooding and indoor air-quality issues at Chapel Hill High.”
But issues at the state level have led to the continued need for the Lincoln Center renovations, officials said. In addition to the work on the administrative offices, the Lincoln Center project would consolidate pre-K, which board members said would be necessary to comply with a new state law capping class sizes at the elementary school level.
School board vice chair Rani Dasi said at the meeting with the county commissioners that the legislation leads her to continue prioritizing the Lincoln Center project.
“My preference, I think, would be Lincoln Center because I think there’s also more time to revisit Chapel Hill High,” she said. “Maybe there’s some opportunities there where we can do more phasing than we have potential to do at Lincoln Center.”
But parents of Chapel Hill High School students have voiced opposition to the delay of work at the high school.
As part of Thursday’s meeting, the school board will consider how to move forward. The board will also consider a resolution Thursday asking the North Carolina General Assembly to delay the implementation of the class size cap legislation and request funding necessary to construct additional classroom space.
Due to the expected large crowd, Thursday night’s meeting has been moved to the Smith Middle School Auditorium and is scheduled to begin at seven o’clock.
Due to the meeting being moved, there will not be an option to livestream the meeting through the school system’s website for those who cannot attend in person. But a district spokesperson said they are hoping an archived video of the meeting will be available online Friday.