Don’s Blog: Temporary 9th Grade Center?

From the blog of Don Frantz, District B Representative on Cary Town Council. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – I need your input. It’s about schools, and development.

“Temporary” 9th Grade Center Proposed

WCPSS has asked the Town of Cary for approval to construct a “temporary” modular school site as a 9th grade center to alleviate overcrowding at Panther Creek High School.

The proposed site is a 45 acre parcel south of the Alston Ridge Elementary School which will house the future M16 middle school campus.

The 9th grade center campus would include 7 modular buildings and one steel building.

Asked to Change Ordinance

Cary Town staff reviewed Cary’s Land Development Ordinance (LDO) and confirmed that it presently does not allow temporary modular classrooms for expansion space unless they are being proposed in conjunction with an already-existing permanent principal structure on the site.

An ordinance amendment would be required to legally allow WCPSS to construct the modular (temporary) 9th grade center.

WCPSS has asked Cary for such an amendment. However an amendment such as this would also be available to any school, whether public or private; and, there is no guarantee a real permanent school would be constructed on such a site in the future.

My Concerns

We can all agree that we need additional school capacity, and I am well aware of many of the issues Panther Creek students and teachers are dealing with. However, some of my concerns are:

  • How “temporary” is temporary? 5 years? 10? 15? We have all experienced temporary classrooms (trailers/modulars) at area schools that, once installed, become permanent fixtures.
  • What assurances do we have that the proposed H7 high school in Apex will alleviate Panther Creek’s overcrowding issues once constructed; negating the need for the 9th grade center?
  • The H7 high school is dependent upon the passing of next year’s school bond referendum. How sure are we that that bond will indeed pass?
  • If the 9th grade center remains indefinitely, how does that impact the construction of middle school M16? (I love that designation btw 😉

Area residents will be subject to construction noise and traffic twice – once for the 9th grade center, and then for its removal and construction of M16.

What Say You?

So, please help me, and probably all of council out here. What say you, Panther Creek and West Cary families? Do you support an ordinance amendment allowing for “temporary” classroom construction or not? Do you have a better solution?

PLEASE contact me with your thoughts at don.frantz@townofcary.orgor email the entire council at council@townofcary.org. We need to hear from you. Thank you.

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1 reply
  1. Paul Quigley
    Paul Quigley says:

    It might be too late to comment on this, but I will do so anyways. As a homeowner in the Waterford Estates subdivision with property that backs up to the M16 site, I have a very real interest in what happens here. There have been changes to the original site plan for M16 to (1) accommodate the 9th grade center with as much reuse and cost savings as possible, and, (2) to accommodate the Town of Cary’s wishes to share the facilities. The new plan includes 2 softball fields, 2 artificial turf multi-purpose fields, and an international sized soccer field with surrounding track. These facilities will provide a steady flow of traffic through our neighborhood during the week and on the weekends. I wonder why we need all of these facilities – the soccer field seems overkill at a time when our economy is barely hanging in there. Until we have a clear picture of the site plan and uses for the M16 property, we should NOT support the 9th grade center. As tax payers, we are not being given all of the information yet being asked to sign up for the 9th grade center. Personally, I support the 9th grade center, but only after we know the complete picture for M16.
    Thank you!

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