Newer, larger gymnasiums are in the works for Laney and Hoggard high schools.
The 1,600-seat gyms are among a host of improvements and additions slated for the New Hanover County schools as included in the $160 million bond referendum approved by voters in the November general election.
The bond funds 14 projects identified as high priority by district officials, key among them a new northeast elementary school, the replacement of both Blair and College Park elementary schools and a major overhaul to Wrightsville Beach Elementary.
The referendum also includes construction of new gyms at Hoggard and Laney. The existing facilities, both decades old, will remain and function as auxiliary gyms.
Laney will also see a new media center as part of the bond referendum, and the current library will be converted into classrooms. And Hoggard’s existing cafeteria will be expanded, among other site and infrastructure improvements.
The district is in the pre-design phase for the projects at both schools, with construction is set to begin in June 2016. Work is set to be complete by August 2017.
The 2014 bond is the priciest school bond referendum to date, surpassing the $125 million one in 1997 that paid for the construction of Parsley Elementary, Murray Middle and Ashley High schools. A $123 million bond issue was passed in 2005 to build Castle Hayne Elementary and Holly Shelter Middle.
The final figure for the bond referendum was narrowed down from 25 improvement projects worth $280 million. According to the district, current facilities needs are in the $400 million range. But district officials had previously argued that as projected student enrollment continues to be on the rise, at least some of those needs must be addressed now.
The bonds will be repaid over a 20-year period, with an average tax increase of 3 cents on the property tax rate.