District Presents Plan for Opening of New Schools
Nov. 14, 2023 – As progress continues on Guilford County Schools’ bond construction projects, the district is sharing its plans to update and move forward with the Facilities Master Plan.
The 2019 plan called for the rebuilding of 22 schools on their existing sites. Two of those schools, Peck Elementary and Foust Elementary, are currently under construction and will reopen with new choice themes. Peck will reopen as a K-8 Expeditionary Learning school, and Foust will reopen as a K-5 gaming and robotics school. Both are scheduled for occupancy in January 2025.
The master facilities plan also called for the district to close 13 schools and 11 administrative buildings, including Murphey Traditional Academy and Wiley Elementary. Under the plan presented Tuesday, these two schools would close in 2024-25 and become swing space for other schools as they begin construction. Students who attend Murphey and Wiley would be redistricted to Peck Elementary, which is situated between them.
Another school that was expected to close is Archer Elementary. This school is slated for renovation to become home for Erwin Montessori, which is one of the three schools destroyed in the April 2018 tornado. The other two schools were Peeler Elementary and Hampton Elementary, both of which have closed.
Erwin has been located at Alamance Elementary since the tornado, but enrollment has been limited because of space constraints. To allow Erwin to expand its numbers, Erwin students would move to Wiley Elementary while construction is in progress at the Archer campus. Students in the Archer attendance zone would be permanently rezoned to Foust Elementary.
“Peck and Foust would be able to serve more students in their new spaces, and by consolidating elementary schools would allow more students to access these new buildings and spend our voter-approved bond dollars in the most efficient way possible,” said Dr. Julius Monk, deputy superintendent of business and operations.
Under the original plan, Swann Middle was on the list of schools for full renovation, and it was projected to become a 6-12 leadership academy. Instead, the plan calls for Swann to be renovated to become a 6-12 performing arts school, similar to Penn-Griffin School for the Arts in High Point. This would allow students who will attend the Visual and Performing Arts school under construction at the Peeler site to seamlessly transition to Swann Middle, which would become a full choice program with no attendance zone.
Currently, Swann Middle has an attendance zone as well as two choice programs – Spanish Immersion and STEM. Under the district’s plan, the Spanish Immersion program would move to Kiser Middle, keeping it in a feeder pattern of Spanish Immersion programs at Jones Elementary and Grimsley High. The STEM program would transfer to Hairston Middle, giving STEM students at Bluford and Foust a nearby middle school option with a STEM focus. Students in the current Swann attendance zone would be split between Mendenhall Middle and Kiser Middle, depending on their zoned high school of either Page or Grimsley.
"Our goal is to create a continuum of choices across the district for families from kindergarten through 12th grade, so they can remain closer to home while accessing great options for specialized learning,” says Monk.
There will be a public hearing scheduled for Dec. 12 to provide an opportunity for the public to express their views of the proposed plan. The Guilford County Board of Education will take action on these recommendations at its meeting on Dec. 12. If approved by the Board during the Dec. 12 board meeting, transitions would occur at the beginning of the 2024-25 school year so classroom groups can be maintained when students and staff move into buildings opening in January 2025. Students would join their new schools in their current locations before moving to the new buildings together. Currently, Foust students are located at Murphey Traditional Academy and Jackson Middle during construction.
Parents and staff learned about these recommendations in separate meetings in early November, and communication will continue in the coming months.