forest hills high

Bond issue would enable Union County (N.C.) district to replace high school, elementary school

Sept. 19, 2022
Most of the proposed $134 million in bonds would be earmarked for a new Forest Hills High School.

The Union County (N.C.) district is asking voters to approve a $134.4 million bond proposal in November that will provide funds to build a new high school and new elementary.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the district wants to replace Forest Hills High School, which was built in 1960 and no longer meets students’ needs. Union County also wants to replace East Elementary School — a building that is 70 years old.

Forest Hills, which enrolled 879 students last year, consists of four buildings and five mobile classrooms. It has no modern classrooms or flexible space, says Principal Kevin Plue.

Bathrooms do not have enough room to effectively get all students through during class changes. The cafeteria doesn’t have room to seat all students at one time.

The school has added features such as air conditioning and internet connections, Plue says it has created “a sort of Frankenstein feel” because additions weren’t in the original design and were added at different times.

Putting all staff and students in one building under one roof will bolster security, officials say.

A new two-story building on the same property will cost about $95.8 million. The proposed project would include a new auditorium, expanded dining room area, updated teacher workrooms, a modern media center, multi-purpose auxiliary gym, new weight room and new arts and band spaces. The new high school would open during the 2025-26 school year.

East Elementary houses roughly 400 students and has HVAC equipment that is not in good working condition. Plumbing problems are frequent, tiles and flooring are uneven in areas, and kitchen equipment often requires maintenance.

A new, two-story East Elementary building would cost about $38.6 million. It would provide space needed to house pre-K classes — right now the campus can accommodate only one pre-K classroom — and feature a multipurpose gym, expanded dining space and collaboration areas.

The new school is slated to open in 2025-26. Union County is the sixth-largest school district in North Carolina and serves more than 40,000 students.

The State Department of Public Instruction has estimated the total school facility needs in North Carolina over five years is nearly $12.8 billion.

Union County has identified needs of more than $400 million. 

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