The Hawbridge School, a public charter school for kindergarten through 12th grade located in Saxapahaw, plans to build a new 41,400-square-foot building, according to documents that have been filed with the county planning department.
The expansion will enable the charter school to serve students in kindergarten through third grade for the first time since its founding. The Hawbridge School currently serves students in grades four through 12.
Once the expansion is complete, the original building will be used for kindergarten through 7th grade. The Hawbridge School had an estimated enrollment of 322 students, as of the end of the first month of the current school year, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.
The cost for the expansion is estimated at $9.5 million, based on figures that The Hawbridge School provided to Alamance County’s planning department. Construction on the expansion began last fall and is targeted for completion in August of this year, according to The Hawbridge School.
The new building will be called the “Upper School” and will serve students in grades eight through 12. The original school building (to be called the “Lower School”) will serve students in kindergarten through seventh grades, according to Mya Ciccotti Geiss, executive director of The Hawbridge School.
The expansion will enable the tuition-free public charter school to increase enrollment from its existing level of 320 students to a projected total of 594 students for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, Ciccotti Geiss confirmed for The Alamance News. Construction of the new upper school building is being funded by a loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s division of Rural Development, she said in a recent interview.
The new upper school will be across the street from the original school building at 1735 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road in Saxapahaw, Ciccotti Geiss explained.
The Hawbridge School is also planning to renovate the original building, which is estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000, based on information that was provided to the charter school’s board of directors earlier this year. Ciccotti Geiss said that the renovations are currently targeted for completion this summer.
The Hawbridge School originally opened in August 1998 as the New Century Charter School and operated out of temporary spaces around Chapel Hill until moving to a renovated mill along the banks of the Haw River in Saxapahaw in 2004, according to a history of its founding from The Hawbridge School.
The expansion is being designed by the Little Diversified architectural firm in Durham and will be built by CT Wilson Construction of Durham. Aspire Construction Management of Cary has been hired to oversee the project.
The Hawbridge School used a lottery-based process to enroll prospective new students for the upcoming school year. Though there are waiting lists for some grades, the charter school is continuing to accept applications through its website.
The longest waiting lists appear to be at the kindergarten and elementary school level, based on data that Ciccotti Geiss provided for The Alamance News.
There are 71 students on the waiting list for kindergarten; 45 students for 1st grade; 45 for second grade; 37 for 3rd grade; 23 for 4th grade; 33 for 5th grade; and 40 students on the wait list for 6th grade. There are approximately two dozen students on each of the waiting lists at the middle school level and a handful of students on each of the waiting lists for the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades; but there is no waiting list for the 12th grade, based on the figures that Ciccotti Geiss provided.
Class sizes in kindergarten through grades three are capped at 17 students; in grades four through six, at approximately 20 students; and grades seven through 12 are capped at about 22 students, according to the charter school. The Hawbridge School has an emphasis on outdoor and hands-on education, according to the charter school’s description of its curriculum and vision.
Ciccotti Geiss told the newspaper that a groundbreaking ceremony had been delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the charter school’s board of directors is tentatively planning to hold a ceremony in June.