South Charlotte

New elementary school to be built in Pineville

Pineville Elementary is now one giant step closer to its new home, the first LEED-certified school in the district.

Built more than 50 years ago, the school has long been on the short list for major renovations or a new building. With the struggling economy, however, many construction projects were put on hold.

But last week the school board voted to move forward with the project and contract the work to Beam Construction Company.

The construction team will build a new Pineville Elementary facility on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools-owned land behind the existing school, which currently houses a ball field.

Students will stay in the current building until construction is finished. Then everyone will move to the new building and Beam will demolish the old one.

The project is scheduled to be completed by August 2013.

Pineville principal Brian Doerer, who came to the school nine years ago, was excited to hear the plans were moving forward.

The existing Pineville Elementary building was constructed in 1968 and, because of building practices at the time, has little cross-ventilation, said Doerer.

"The school is like a person," he said. "It's old...the pipes have gotten smaller and smaller like your arteries. The water can't flow."

The school also doesn't have a computer lab or video projectors in the classrooms because the building wasn't set up with enough outlets or power sources.

"It's just reached the end of its life cycle," said Dennis LaCaria, director of facilities planning and real estate for CMS.

Plans for Pineville Elementary have been near the top of CMS's capital-needs list for a number of years.

It was originally marked for major renovations, but CMS officials found that they could replace the building for about the same cost.

The cost of the new school and demolishment is estimated at nearly $11.6 million, which comes from the 2007 bond package Mecklenburg County residents voted on.

The Pineville Elementary project is one of about 40 projects through the $516 million voter-approved 2007 bond package.

But because of the economy, about $300 million of projects are still outstanding, said LaCaria.

Several months ago, the Mecklenburg County Commissioners authorized the release of bond money voters approved in 2004 and 2007, which set the ball rolling.

Beam Construction bided on the long-awaited replacement project and subsequent demolition in late November.

LaCaria was quick to reiterate that only the school's facility will change; the school boundaries won't be altered.

Pineville Elementary currently has about 730 students in 38 classrooms.

The new facility will include 39 classrooms, special-area classrooms, a computer lab, media center, gym and cafeteria.

A removable wall will separate the cafeteria and gym, and when removed the space will seat 800 students.

The building will be a clone of Stoney Creek Elementary in the University area, with one important difference: the new Pineville Elementary will be LEED-certified. The latest trend in construction, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification means the building was made by employing green, sustainable building techniques that will be incorporated in the way the school is designed, built and operated.

For example, the new facility will have a reflective roof, low-water-usage urinals and toilets, bike racks and a sophisticated system for handling storm water.

The upgraded building will also allow for more technology. There will be 31 computers in a new computer lab, and each classroom will be equipped with at least three computers, one printer and a projection system with speakers.

The new building will be a signal that CMS is committed to building sustainable schools.

LaCaria said CMS has long followed LEED construction practices but hasn't pursued official LEED certification, which requires detailed documentation, until now.

"The biggest thing is, wow, we're getting a new building," said Doerer. "I'll be happy when I see the trucks rolling and the dust moving."