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Overcrowded schools could halt development

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer
Overcrowding in elementary schools and a delay in the construction of a new school could put a temporary stop to new residential development under the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO), according to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.

Jamezetta Bedford

Board Chair Jamezetta Bedford on Monday sent the Orange County Board of Commissioners, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt a letter notifying them of the possibility that new developments could be denied Certificates of Adequate Public Schools (CAPS), which are required under SAPFO.

“These overcrowding concerns are straining on our elementary schools,” Bedford wrote. “Enrollment has been increasing and we have approached and exceeded our elementary schools’ capacities.”

The allocation of funding for the district’s 11th elementary school has been delayed twice, and the school is now scheduled to open for the 2014-15 school year – a year later than SAPFO calls for – but only if the county allocates funding in 2012-13.

“Because of revenues being down and the debt-capacity ceiling … they really didn’t have the cash,” Bedford said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s not like the county has ignored us, and we know that the county knows that this could happen.”

The commissioners allocated $500,000 this year for the deconstruction of the old building on the school site, but it is unclear if that will be enough for deconstruction and abatement, Bedford said.

In 2008, the board voted to site the school in the Northside neighborhood, between Caldwell and McMasters streets where the former Northside Elementary School was located.
Bedford said that once the school year begins and the district conducts a count of students, the board will have a better picture of just how overcrowded the schools may be.

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