Proposed $134M bond package seeks to replace two schools in Union County

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Several schools in Union County are in desperate need of an upgrade, and community members will get a chance to learn how they can be improved.

A vote on a $134,405,000 bond package that would allow the upgrades will take place on Nov. 8.

The district is looking to replace two schools that are at least 60 years old, including Forest Hills High School and East Elementary School.

If passed, around $38 million will go to replacing East Elementary School, which is a 70-year-old building. It would be torn down and a new two-story building would be built on the same property. It would include additional pre-K classrooms, a flexible multi-purpose gym, expanded dining space and more.

About $95 million would go toward a new Forest Hills High School, which is currently 60 years old. The district says it’s inadequate for a modern-day high school. The new school would have a new auditorium, a modern media center with collaboration space, a multi-purpose auxiliary gym, and more.

“The addition of the Monroe bypass has already created some building that’s going on in our area, and the existing school is not large enough to handle that predicted growth. One of the predictions for the new school, it would be able to hold a larger student body,” said Kevin Plue, principal of Forest Hills High School.

The district currently has over $800 million in facility needs at other schools. If this bond is approved, more projects will move up the priority list, according to the district.

A meeting was held Sept. 8 inside Forest Hills High School, where leaders detailed the package to voters. There will be five other meetings that are open to the community, with the next opportunity being at 6 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Porter Ridge High School.

For more information on the proposed package, click here.

Principals say new buildings desperately needed

Channel 9′s Gina Esposito visited both campuses Wednesday, where the principals said new buildings are desperately needed.

A smokestack was the first thing Esposito saw at Forest Hills High School. It was used to heat the school in the 1960s before pipes were installed for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

“Just kind of a Frankenstein feel to a building, because it’s got so many additional things added to it over time,” Plue said.

He said the biggest issue right now is space. At least 33 students fit into a tiny classroom, and Plue said bathrooms are small and the cafeteria isn’t large enough for all students to eat lunch.

“There are things you are constantly having to think about when you don’t have kids to put in one location,” Plue said.

Space is also an issue at East Elementary School.

“Currently, we have room for one pre-K classroom,” principal Michelle Goode said. “With there only being 16 students in a pre-K classroom, we have a waitlist.”

If voters approve the bond money, the district said construction at Forest Hill could start next spring, with students on campus in the fall of 2025.

(WATCH BELOW: District leaders hope for year of normalcy as school returns in Union County)

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