Wake County Schools

Wake school board considers building bigger classrooms, irrigating sports fields

Posted January 16, 2020 12:07 p.m. EST

Laura Kilcrease works as a substitute teacher at Abbotts Creek Elementary School in Raleigh on March 1, 2019.

— The Wake County Board of Education is considering building bigger classrooms to make more room for teachers and students and irrigating sports fields to help improve safety and equity.

The board's facilities committee discussed the potential changes Wednesday evening as part of the district's 2020 Capital Improvement Plan. Among the proposed changes for future schools:

In elementary schools:

  • Increase 2nd-5th grade and special education classrooms to 950 square feet.
  • Assign specific square footage to mechanical space in building systems.
  • Increase cafeteria space to 15 square feet per student.

In middle schools:

  • Increase general classroom, special education, foreign language and multipurpose classrooms to 950 square feet.
  • Assign specific square footage to mechanical space in building systems.
  • Increase cafeteria space to 15 square feet per student.
  • Increase science labs to 1,300 square feet.

In high schools:

  • Increase general classroom, special education, occupation and health education to 950 square feet.
  • Assign specific square footage to mechanical space in building systems.
  • Increase cafeteria space to 15 square feet per student.
  • Add training lab & ISS classroom

Elementary schools' general classrooms have been reduced in size three times in the past 22 years, according to a presentation from Wake schools' staff.

Restoring classrooms to 950 square feet "will allow for a little more flexibility" for teachers' instruction methods, including having students work collaboratively instead of sitting in rows, and to make room for students who have grown in size over the years, according to Marcella Rorie, the district's director of planning design.

"In the period of time I’ve been here, we’ve taken 100 to 150 square feet from general classrooms," Rorie told board members.

If the changes are approved, they would not be seen in schools for another three to four years due to how long it takes to design and construct new schools.

The proposal also includes plans to irrigate softball, baseball and multipurpose fields at high schools and softball and multipurpose fields at middle schools. The change is needed to address safety and equity issues across the district, according to Rorie, because more affluent schools may have booster clubs to help with irrigation costs while low-income schools may not.

"It's a cost-savings in the long run," said board member Christine Kushner, who noted the importance of maintaining the fields.

Board members discussed several other facility issues, including finding a better metric to decide how schools are prioritized for renovations, better sustainability efforts at schools, such as using disposable trays, and the possibility of preparing food at a regional center instead of having meals prepared at individual schools.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.