Elon Elementary School is officially moving as part of an expansion plan Elon University has been discussing for nearly 20 years. On Tuesday night, the Elon board of alderman unanimously voted to approve a special-use permit and start construction on the new school.
It will be built on Walker Road less than two miles away from its current location on 22 acres of land which the university already owns. At 94,500 square feet, a town ordinance requires a special permit due to the building’s size exceeding 70,000 square feet.
The building will be able to accomodate the current elementary school’s population of 750 students with “some additional room,” according to vice president for university communications Dan Anderson.
The university is paying around $20 million to build the new school as a trade off for the land where it stands now. Anderson says he expects this deal to pay off in the long run for the university.
“The return on the investment is having the facilities for the students of the future to go to the institutions,” he said.
Anderson says adding the space is part of the university’s master plan. Expansions include academic buildings, more parking, and residence halls.
“Right now we don’t have enough student housing to handle the demand by students,” he said. “The master plan envisions an Elon of a bigger size a decade from now.”
Blueprints are already in place for the new school, which will be modeled after the George C. Simkins Jr. Elementary School in Greensboro.
Board of alderman member Emily Sharpe says she’s looking forward to the move as both a community member and a parent.
“As a parent of a child who will go to kindergarten in the second year of the new school, I’m really excited for this opportunity for my community,” Sharpe said.
Both Anderson and Sharpe agree that decreasing traffic on East Haggard Avenue by moving the school is in the best interest for university and elementary students.
“We definitely see it as a safer environment not just for university students, but of course for our elementary students and staff as well,” she said.
Elon News Network spoke with several parents of current Elon Elementary students who all agreed that the move will help improve road safety and decrease traffic.
Sharpe says some residents near the new site are now worried that the traffic will affect their neighborhood. To prevent traffic congestion near Walker Road, a turning lane will be built in front of the school, and police will direct traffic.
Construction on the new elementary school is set to begin by April. The school plans to open its doors in fall of 2019.