South Charlotte

2 new Mecklenburg schools going green

Pineville Elementary and Bain Elementary Schools will finally be replaced thanks to the County Commissioners approving the release of bond money approved in 2004 and 2007.

Both projects have been near the top of the school system's capital needs list for a number of years.

Guy Chamberlain, Associate Superintendent for Auxiliary Services for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, says the two schools were originally marked for major renovations, but once the numbers were run, CMS found they could replace the buildings for about the same amount of money. Construction cost for each school is estimated at about $11 million. Design costs, furnishings and other added items bring the total cost of each school to about $15 million.

Both schools will contain the same amenities including 39 classrooms, special area classrooms, computer lab, media center, cafeteria and gym. When a removable wall separating the cafeteria and gym is opened, there will be space to seat up to 800 students.

Chamberlain says construction on the new Pineville Elementary will begin in October 2011. The current school was built in1968 and will be demolished once the new school is complete. The school has about 730 students enrolled in 38 classrooms.

The new school will be a clone of Stoney Creek Elementary School in the University area with one important difference - it will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. This means that green building techniques will be incorporated in the design, construction and operation of the new school. A few green things to look for: a reflective roof; low-flush urinals and toilets; bike racks; the way storm water is handled.

LEED certification requires the building to earn a certain number of points for the green techniques used. Under the LEED process for certification, a form has to be completed by a LEED accredited professional and then the school system will have to pay a fee to the U.S Green Building Council to complete the process.

Chamberlain says CMS will get Pineville Elementary LEED certified, then will use that same plan and building methods for future elementary schools, though they won't go through the certification process.

"We want to be able to demonstrate that we are building sustainable schools that meet LEED certification, and we'll point to Pineville as proof," said Chamberlain.

Since the new school is being built next to the old one, students will not be displaced during construction. Chamberlain expects them to move to the new school in late 2012, perhaps over Christmas break.

Construction on the new school at Bain Elementary in Mint Hill is expected to start in January of 2012. The new school will be a clone school of River Gate Elementary near Carowinds.

Bain Elementary School campus is composed of three separate buildings built in different eras. The oldest building, circa 1920s, still holds an art classroom and a music classroom. Chamberlain says that building will remain and will probably be donated to the town to be renovated as a historical structure.

The long building, or "C" building, was built during 1950s and will be demolished to make way for a bus parking lot. A portion of the newest building was constructed during the early 1970s, and another portion added in the early 1990s. Chamberlain says the school system will keep that building in service even when the new school goes online to handle the growing student population. He expects the new school to be ready around spring break 2013.

When schools starts this fall, Bain Elementary estimates enrollment of 1,005 students in 44 homeroom classes including seventeen classes in mobile classrooms.

Bain principal John LeGrand says both students and staff are excited.

"This has been a long time in the making. We're very proud of our history, but we are looking forward to a facility that will house our growing student population," he said.