BRUNSWICK COUNTY — A high school in Brunswick County received the county commissioner go-ahead for a new building and renovations, alleviating congestion concerns — at least for now.
North Brunswick High School in Leland will utilize $23 million from Brunswick County Schools’ $512 million bond — passed in 2016 for projects across all 19 district schools — to complete a slate of expansion projects. The biggest improvement will be the construction of a two-story building with 12 classrooms and a new band room. The addition also provides an opportunity for a future four-classroom enlargement.
The move comes over a year after the Brunswick County Board of Education discussed capacity concerns at North Brunswick and initiated smaller measures to divert students to other schools.
One of five high schools in the district, North Brunswick has a rapidly growing population, hosting a student count of 1,455 this year, up from 1,320 last school year and 1,110 during the 2016-2017 school year.
The influx of students at North Brunswick reflects the ballooning population in the state’s second-fastest growing county and 20th-fastest growing municipality. The school district endured a two-part redistricting process spanning from 2019 to 2021 in response to the rapidly changing demographics.
During school board discussions last year, the district reported North Brunswick at 71% capacity. It estimated enrollment would reach over 1,500 students by 2028, topping 103% capacity by 2029, as larger classes come in from the middle schools and smaller class sizes graduate out.
According to data provided to PCD this week, the school can only accommodate around 80 more students under current conditions. Board members said they planned to add up to 400 seats at the school during their March 30, 2021, meeting, yet did not present a feasible solution to accommodate that goal.
The district’s contingency plan to address North Brunswick’s congestion was to redistrict the Mallory Creek subdivision to South Brunswick High School, but it was stalled due to transportation concerns.
In the end, the board decided to redistrict undeveloped land south of Mallory Creek to Bolivia Elementary, South Brunswick Middle and South Brunswick High. A small group of students living in the southern portion of North Brunswick’s boundaries were also redistricted.
The addition will ease overcrowding and allow the school to reduce its reliance on modular units, put in place over the years as student population has swelled. According to Chief Communications Officer Gordon Burnette, the school has removed 11 units from the campus during Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the bond processes — only four modulars remain.
Money for North Brunswick’s new facilities comes from the third phase of the 2016 bond referendum, issued in July. The district awarded the phase’s contract to Becker Morgan Group, the architects behind multiple UNCW academic buildings, including the most-recent film studies building. Construction will be completed by Barnhill Contracting Company, set to begin in June 2023. The goal for completion by September 2024.
The new building will be situated adjacent to the ROTC shooting range, north of the school’s four existing classrooms. Burnette told Port City Daily the district will hire new teaching and custodial employees to staff it, but did not answer how many.
Core teaching positions, he said, are allotted based on a formula of one teacher per 23 students. North Brunswick was assigned 60 positions, and at its current population, the ratio is 24.25 students per teacher. However, teaching staff is supplemented by 11 career and technical education, 10 EC, one credit recovery and three ROTC teachers. The bond will not cover their pay.
The addition also will require demolition of the campus’ fire apparatus access road, softball field and tennis courts, with replacement amenities to be built at different areas of the site.
Farther north will be a new softball field, dugouts, pressbox and lighting, along with three new practice fields for various sports — one 30-by-100, one 40-by-100 and one 50-by-100 yard field.
The tennis courts will move to the southwest corner of campus and be outfitted with lighting and a building for restrooms and concessions.
More staff parking will be needed to accommodate the building addition; North Brunswick’s bus parking lot will be modified with 42 additional faculty spaces, while an additional lot near the new softball field will hold 86 spaces.
The school’s master plan includes future projects not included in this round of renovations: an ROTC facility and drill pad, a new press box and expanded dugouts for the baseball field, and extended bleachers for the football field.
Previous North Brunswick updates covered by the bond include four classrooms, two career and technical education rooms, one EC room and a chorus room completed in 2016. A cafeteria addition and upgraded shop classrooms were both completed in 2018, while the campus gained a new field house in 2019.
Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at email@example.com
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