Saturday, August 13, 2022

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Construction of new high school on schedule

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Construction of the Alamance-Burlington school system’s seventh high school is moving ahead on schedule for an August 2023 opening.

The $67 million new high school is under construction on 96 acres at 3368 South N.C. Highway 119, across from the Honda Power Equipment manufacturing plant in Swepsonville.

ABSS assistant superintendent Dr. Todd Thorpe told The Alamance News this week that the athletic stadium is complete and the track has been stoned.

Steel has also been erected for one classroom building, Thorpe said Monday. The walls for the gym are almost complete, as are curb and guttering throughout the site, he added.

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While the cost to build the 221,000-square foot new high school was originally estimated at $67 million, ABSS asked Alamance County’s commissioners in April 2021 to release an additional $5.2 million in capital reserve funding to pay for construction upgrades (or “preferred alternates”) that weren’t included in the original scope of work. (ABSS had asked the county in April 2021 to release a total of $9.6 million in school capital reserve funding, which also included approximately $4.4 million for routine repairs at several other schools.)

The “preferred alternates” that Thorpe outlined for school board members at the time – and later, the county commissioners – included a vocational building; LED lighting for tennis courts and soccer fields; motorized bleachers in an auxiliary gym; polished concrete on the first and second floors; reinforced doors; PVC roofing; and roadwork.

Alamance County’s commissioners subsequently voted 4-1 to release the additional funding to ABSS last April. Commissioner Pam Thompson, a former two-term school board member, voted against releasing the $9.6 million in school capital reserve funding to ABSS.

Approximately $2.2 million in school capital reserve funding was designated for road improvements required by the state Department of Transportation, Thorpe told both boards last spring.

The required road improvements included construction of a turn lane at the main entrance to the school site, with 300 feet for stacking, or queuing of vehicles in the car rider lane, Chuck Edwards, Jr., the DOT division engineer for Alamance and Orange counties, said in an earlier interview with the newspaper.

Thorpe told the newspaper Monday that the road improvements along N.C. Highway 119 are now complete.

Once complete, the new high school will have classroom capacity for 1,250 students, though core areas such as the gym and cafeteria will be able to accommodate up to 1,500 students, based on schematic design plans previously presented to school board members.

School board members voted in late 2019 to hire Greensboro-based Samet Corporation as the Construction-Manager-at-Risk to ensure that construction of the new high school is completed on time and on budget.

The lion’s share of the cost to build the new high school is being funded by the $150 million bond package that voters approved for ABSS in November 2018. The bonds for the new high school were sold last April; and construction began in May 2021.

The annual cost to operate the county’s seventh high school is estimated at $1.75 million, effective with the 2023-24 fiscal year, based on preliminary budget figures developed by ABSS and county government officials.

Completion is currently targeted for April 2023 in order for the new high school to be ready in time for the 2023-24 school year.

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