The population at Torrence Creek Elementary School in Huntersville is expected to dramatically decrease in fall 2013, when a new elementary school opens nearby.
Earlier this month, Mecklenburg County commissioners approved $15.3 million in funding for the long-awaited Stumptown Elementary.
The school system will begin accepting bids in spring and should begin construction by May, said Dennis Lacaria, planning specialist with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. It is expected to open in August 2013.
The school is expected to be modeled after Long Creek Elementary School. The two-story school will have 39 classrooms and a capacity of 800 students.
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When it opens, the school is expected to be at about 80 percent occupancy.
The opening of Stumptown Elementary School will end a more than six-year effort by area residents and officials to relieve crowding at Torrence Creek.
"It's been something that's been needed for a while, there's no doubt about that," said Lacaria.
After Torrence Creek Elementary School was built in 2005, it didn't take long for the school to reach full capacity.
At the start of the current school year, 1,232 students were enrolled at Torrence Creek, putting it at 180 percent capacity with 37 mobile units.
Although funding for the new school was approved in a bond referendum in 2007, progress stalled with the economy. A debt moratorium prevented the county from building until that moratorium was lifted in 2011.
Huntersville commissioner Ron Julian said he's spoken with many residents who were "ecstatic" to learn that the school is finally going to be built.
Mayor Jill Swain commended parents at Torrence Creek for being "very vocal and dedicated and persistent and committed and patient."
One such parent, Tracie Brunt, said that while she wishes the new school had been built years ago, she's proud of how her son's school has handled its crowding issue over the last few years.
"We have just been bound and determined that, in spite of adverse conditions, we were going to have a fantastic school," said Brunt, whose son is a fifth-grader at Torrence Creek.
"While we desperately need a new school, I am sure for many it will be bittersweet as this truly is a phenomenal place to be."