Education

Lake Norman Charter plans to add elementary school

Lake Norman Charter plans to begin construction on its new elementary school after it closes on the land Thursday. Classes will take place in modular units until the permanent building is finished.
Lake Norman Charter plans to begin construction on its new elementary school after it closes on the land Thursday. Classes will take place in modular units until the permanent building is finished.

After some initial uncertainty, Lake Norman Charter’s new elementary school is moving forward.

On June 6, the Huntersville town board voted down the school’s rezoning petition of the 39-acre Hambright Road property, because it didn’t include plans to pay for all of the road improvements the town had requested.

Lake Norman Charter presented a revised petition June 20, in which the school would pay for road improvements as far away as 3.5 miles, but through fixed payments over a two-year period. During that time, other new businesses and developments in the area would also contribute money to the improvements, which Superintendent Shannon Stein said is a unique solution and new for Huntersville. The town board approved the new petition unanimously. Lake Norman Charter would likely save money.

“Through continued work together, we came to a win-win situation,” Stein said.

The elementary school will be located near Hambright and Patterson roads, about 4 miles from the existing middle and high school.

Based on the results of a traffic impact study, the school was asked to contribute toward the improvements of four intersections, the furthest being the intersection of Hambright and Mount Holly roads, 3.5 miles from the site.

The new school plans to welcome 300 students in grades K-2 for the 2017-18 school year, with third and fourth grade to follow. Classes will take place in modular units until the permanent building is finished in the next four or five years, Stein said.

Lake Norman Charter opened with grades 5-8 in 1998. Sara Lay, a spokeswoman, said the school had started thinking about serving younger students in the mid-2000s, just before the high school opened in 2007.

Town commissioner Rob Kidwell said he doesn’t think the school should be responsible for an intersection more than 3 miles away, but he’s glad the school can move forward.

“I wasn’t crazy about it, but if they were OK with it, I was OK with it,” he said. “It’s a proven charter with a high success rate. It’s a no-brainer for me.”

Kidwell said the school will give Huntersville’s growing population another option.

The school has partnered with the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department to allow use of the gym and fields, which Kidwell said will benefit children in the surrounding neighborhood as well.

Todd Marlin, senior pastor at Independence Hill Baptist Church, has one daughter who graduated from Lake Norman Charter School and one who will be in 10th grade there in the fall. He’s excited to have his youngest attend the new elementary school in 2017.

“We’ve had a great experience,” Marlin said. “The environment there has allowed them to really learn how to study, plan and keep up with their own schedules. They just create a really wonderful learning environment.”

Rachel Herzog: 704-358-5358; @rachel_herzog

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