The Gift of Rezoning

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  1. Wow. Your lack of acknowledgement of the historical significance of this site to our community’s education is appalling. The board has no plans to do this and I will oppose any suggestion that we allow developers to occupy the site of the former Lincoln High (did you not hear the proud roar of the Mighty Tigers last week?).

    Furthermore, renting office space is not cost efficient in the long term, which is how we handle public money. And this idea does nothing to address capacity issues like the 200+ more students we have grown in the past year.

    Nancy, it is easy to imply from this that you’re suggesting the SUP may not be approved. I sure hope you’re not pre-judging that ahead of the hearing closure and outside your public discussion.

  2. Sorry, one more point. The centralized Pre-K is designed to improve services for Pre-K students, as we will able to gain focus on improvement by co-locating. The BoCC has pushed us in the past for a central Pre-K, but it was at Morris Grove. Having in the middle of town is much better for access.

  3. Bonnie Hauser

     /  March 6, 2017

    I love Nancy’s suggestion. I’ve heard the districts arguments for the central pre-k. So many issues have been blurred that’s its hard to see the truth. I’m sad to see so many schools wait for maintenance because all the bond money is going to the Lincoln Center and CH High.

    There’s 12,000 students in CHCCS. After $70 million in facilities improvements, most of them will still be in schools with failing HVAC, leaky roofs, and security issues.

  4. Rani Dasi

     /  March 6, 2017

    The council and community heard the urgent need to improve conditions for our youngest (and other) students as a responsible plan to close the Opportunity/Achievement Gap and begin much needed repairs to our elementary schools, delaying the need to spend tax dollars on a new elementary school. I appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Town of Chapel Hill to provide the best education experience for our students (many of who are Chapel Hill residents).

    Schools are public institutions which collaborate with communities to provide a public good (not private profit focused organizations). Community accountability matters.

    This town/school partnership benefits all of us through education and economic development and is critical to many of Chapel Hill’s families. I look forward to being able to provide improved benefits for our students and families with your support. Thank you!

  5. Bonnie, $70m is just part of the plan. And a critical first step, given the interdependencies between projects as we must continue to serve all students while we renovate buildings. Using $70m to band-aid more buildings is not a sustainable plan. Instead, we asked for a full plan to put all 12,000 students in buildings that are up to standard for the next 60 years.

  6. plurimus

     /  March 6, 2017

    Wow! your lack of consideration of other peoples finances is appalling! $70 million (a $5800.00 per student) band-aid for just facilities. Yikes!

  7. Bonnie Hauser

     /  March 7, 2017

    60 years?

  8. Terri

     /  March 7, 2017

    I loudly and enthusiastically support the School Board’s plan. High quality, affordable preschool is the single best method for ensuring later academic success. Their plan is a cost effective and equitable approach to closing the racial gap. Same for expanding Phoenix.

    To preserve the symbol of segregation history within the community with such a forward looking solution is icing on the cake. Shame on anyone who thinks the building should be redeveloped for the sake of profit.

  9. Bonnie Hauser

     /  March 7, 2017

    60 years? to provide reliable heating and cooling and working roofs? Doesn’t that alone suggest that the plan is flawed?

  10. Terri

     /  March 7, 2017

    ‘Closing the achievement gap’

  11. plurimus

     /  March 7, 2017

    I agree with you sentiment Terri, but physical structures have little to do with “ensuring later academic success”. Its things like critical thinking, digital literacy, class size and the quality of the teaching staff, not the nice digs of the administrators or “historical significance”. Those are completely different things.

    I think all Nancy is putting forth is that the value of the physical property would go a long way toward what you suggest. As far as “preserve the symbol of segregation history” didn’t the previous thread argue that the Confederate Flag should be banned?

    Why do you cast dispersion on a legitimate question and try to shut down discussion with such emotion?

  12. Terri

     /  March 7, 2017

    if you don’t think preserving history in the course of making a sound, forward thinking pedagogical decision is worth emotion, there’s no room for discussion. I would argue that appeals based on traffic in this community are equally emotional.

    p,ease note that I did not say the building itself would bring about academic success. That was your re-interpretation of my ‘icing on the cake’ comment, I guess.

  13. Nancy

     /  March 7, 2017

    I’m not advocating for one solution or another, and this post doesn’t comment on the pending SUP. Rather, it reflects on council’s tendency to cavalierly make assumptions. Rezoning without an SUP leaves open the possibility that something completely different could be done with the land. Once again, I’m prodding council to pay attention to unintended consequences of our decisions.

  14. Nancy,

    The reason developers might be willing to pay big bucks for the rezoned Lincoln Center property is because centrally located parcels of that size are exceedingly rare in our community. Leaving aside the concerns others have raised, if the school district were to sell the Lincoln Center property to a private developer, where would the district find land on which to build the facilities they plan to put on that site, and at what price? The American Legion can take the profits of the sale of their Chapel Hill property and go purchase a new site out in Chatham County where undeveloped land remains abundant and therefore relatively cheap. The school district doesn’t have that option.

    It’s good that we’re having this discussion, because we’ll soon be facing pressure to sell other school properties, such as Glenwood, that are located in areas experiencing land use intensification.

  15. plurimus

     /  March 7, 2017


    Exactly. I doubt the Kleinschmidt toothpaste can be put back in the tube. The recent developments along with those in the works have and will continue to be disruptive to the towns properties and needs. Discussions need to be comprehensive in fact, not just in name and nothing can be off the table. If there are important things that must be preserved then the opportunity cost of doing so must be factored in and understood.

  16. Bonnie Hauser

     /  March 7, 2017

    How did this conversation get to either-or? Academic success vs functional, safe buildings. Hard to achieve anything academically if schools have faulty HVAC and leaking roofs.

    Any strategy can honor a building’s history – that’s the easy part.

    How did fundamental maintenance get blurred with an experiment with pre-k?

  17. plurimus

     /  March 7, 2017

    Not either or, or even just two issues.

    Hard to afford one when the other takes up an inordinate amount of funds. Hard to reconcile paying without solving the issues of neglect and poor planning that caused the building problem in the first place.

    Hard to resolve when one party insists the issues are too emotional to discuss.

  18. Rani Dasi

     /  March 7, 2017

    James’ comment on 60 years refers to the life of the facility, not repair time. The school plans support getting funds to make the necessary repairs in the shortest possible time.

    The school buildings need a significant amount of repair work to bring them to modern standards. With the Great Recession and rapid growth, there were limited funds to invest in repairs. So while $70M is a lot of money, when you consider 18 buildings (some of which were built in the 1960s) which during a school day contain hundreds or thousands of people, typical maintenance needs require a lot of financial investment. When this is compounded by the aging condition, it takes a lot of money to restore them.

    Physical structures have quite a lot to do with instruction. Intentionally designed facilities that provide space for teacher/student collaboration, that improve health and safety environments and increase access for families and students with disabilities are critical to instruction.

  19. Bonnie Hauser

     /  March 8, 2017

    Thanks Rani – that’s reassuring.

    If the county is going to operate 32 schools (two districts), they need to be kept in good repair. The state of our schools suggests that we have a management problem – created partly by the county’s innane school funding policy.

    Maintaining the schools is not a choice – although I have to wonder if there are some strategic ways to make it a lot more cost effective. Has the district spoken to some of the larger districts (Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford) about how they manage facilities?

  20. bart

     /  March 8, 2017

    FWIW, in at least two meetings I attended that were hosted by Triangle I-Wanna-Train, Glenwood was referred to as an “old school.” The subtext was that the train could displace the school and that the train project was interested in pursuing that “option.”

    Frankly, I was appalled. Not their decision, not their land and they have no clue how that school is valued.

  21. Nancy

     /  March 8, 2017

    As Rani points out, almost all the schools are “old.” I’d be interested in hearing from school board members whether GoTriangle has discussed with you options for Glenwood and what you’re considering.

  22. “What to do with Glenwood” is something that we’ve said we’ll consider after we get the 10 older schools dealt with. We did add staff bathrooms and a secure entrance (ribbon-cutting is Friday if you’d like to join) in order to have an expected 10-year life extension of the building while we don’t know. To my knowledge, GoTriangle has not contacted us. Our challenge will be there are 489 students there now — where in Chapel Hill do we have land to house those students? Our older school plan adds elementary capacity, but that’s for expected growth over the next 10 years; we can’t go backward by losing Glenwood and meet all the needs.

  23. Nancy

     /  March 8, 2017

    Thank you. Town council recently put together a task force on what to do with town-owned property. Jess Anderson is on the committee. Contact her to see if there are any options.

  24. Bart

     /  March 8, 2017

    The train project includes a Hamilton street station.