Apex families have been very vocal through the years in expressing the desire to send their children to schools within the community.
The Wake County Public School System took a major step last week toward making that wish a reality.
County school officials announced the adoption of a $130.3 million facilities plan that will include the construction of a new high school on Humie Olive Road in Apex. The $59 million school is scheduled to open in 2015 and will accommodate up to 2,200 students.
The facility will help relieve pressure on Holly Springs and Panther Creek high schools, two overcrowded facilities that must currently accommodate Apex students.
A group of local and county officials gathered Thursday at town hall to discuss the school system’s facilities plan. The Wake County Commissioners must approve the plan before any construction can begin.
Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said the announcement that a second high school would be built in town was welcome news for all of western Wake County.
“It will allow Apex kids to go to an Apex high school and allow the Holly Springs and Cary folks to attend a local school as well,” said Weatherly. “I think it will be a good selling point for the community, that we have two high schools and can say with some certainty that children will go to high school in our community. That will allow families to participate more fully than if they were being transferred out of the immediate Apex area.
“So this really is a special occasion. We just want to encourage the county commissioners to make it happen sooner instead of later.”
Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears was also pleased with the proposed plans for a new high school. He noted that many students from the New Hill area attend Holly Springs High, which is nearly 500 students above its capacity of 1,650.
“Our school is busting at the seams right now,” said Sears. “The new school won’t be called Holly Springs High II or anything like that, although I would like that name, but since it’s in Apex it will be called the Apex whatever. But it will still help our town as we continue to grow. We will probably stay around 2,100 kids but we won’t grow to 2,800 or 3,000 and really have a big problem.”
Sears said the problems with overcrowded schools highlights the importance of town and county leaders working together on finding solutions.
“Regionalism is something I think the whole county has to do a better job in,” said Sears. “What happens (in Apex) affects Holly Springs and what happens in Holly Springs affects (Apex). Fuquay is part of that, Cary is part of it and so is Harnett County and Johnston County. We need to start thinking as a county rather than as one town versus the other.”
School board chairman Ron Margiotta said the Apex area was in good shape with available seats at elementary and middle schools. The problem, however, is overcrowding at the high school level.
“Right now there is a need for a high school,” said Margiotta. “It will relieve pressure on two schools, Apex and Holly Springs, and will also take some pressure off Panther Creek. We need more high school seats desperately in this part of the county.”
Margiotta said a ninth grade center was being built at Panther Creek while modular units were being added at Holly Springs.
WCPSS Superintendent Tony Tata called the $130.3 million construction plan an “efficient use of taxpayer money.”
“We knew we needed to be innovative and create space cheaper than it has been done before,” said Tata. “We have used extreme due diligence to get the most bang for our buck.”
Wake County Commissioner Chairman Paul Coble praised the “great leadership” in Apex and Holly Springs that has led to so much growth in both towns.
“They are both towns that people seek out and want to live in,” said Coble. “That is a nice way of saying you guys caused this (school overcrowding) problem.”
For more details on the WCPSS construction plan visit www.wcpss.net.