Construction to begin next month on Ogden-area elementary school

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A groundbreaking ceremony for the area's newest school, Porters Neck Elementary, is set for later this month. Image courtesy New Hanover County Schools.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the area’s newest school, Porters Neck Elementary, is set for later this month. Image courtesy New Hanover County Schools.

Work will soon begin on New Hanover County’s newest school.

County leaders will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for Porters Neck Elementary, 416 Edgewater Club Road, on Nov. 30. Construction on the school will get underway beginning in December.

The 18-acre site was picked from more than a dozen the district considered in Ogden for the school, which will ease overcrowding at Wrightsville Beach Elementary and in the northeast part of the county.

County commissioners approved that location in November 2014, giving the go ahead on the purchase of the $1.6 million property. The bulk of those funds—$1 million—comes from the county’s public school special revenue fund, while the remaining $617,300 comes out of the county’s general fund.

Commissioners had previously agreed to fund the project regardless of the outcome of the $160 million education bond referendum approved by New Hanover County voters last November.

The bond will fund 14 projects deemed high priority by the district, including the replacement of both Blair and College Park elementary schools. Wrightsville Beach Elementary will also get a major overhaul and each of the county’s middle schools are slated for renovations. Laney, Hoggard and New Hanover high schools will see some renovations and additions, as well, and the district plans to implement systemwide safety and technology improvements, including the installation of security cameras at all schools and faster wireless and Internet access.

It’s 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 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 district currently has an enrollment of approximately 26,000.

Preliminary work is already underway on two projects–new gymnasiums and additional renovations at Laney and Hoggard high schools. Porters Neck Elementary is set to open in 2020.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the school will begin at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a reception at Blair Elementary. Laney High School’s JROTC will present the colors, and Blair Elementary students will perform a song. New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley, school board chairman Donald Hayes and Jonathan Barfield, chairman of the board of county commissioners, are all scheduled to speak during the event.