MORRISVILLE — As Wake County voters head to the polls to vote on a proposed $810million school-construction bond issue, Morrisville leaders are looking toward the future of their schools.
Morrisville has no public secondary schools. Middle school and high school students who live in town travel to Cary or elsewhere for school.
With a population that now exceeds 20,000, the town’s elected officials say it’s time to start a serious dialogue with Wake County about plans for a future middle school and high school, along with plans to ease overcrowding at the town’s two elementary schools.
The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to support the Oct.8 bond issue. Members also agreed to have a joint meeting with the town’s representative on the Wake County Board of Commissioners and school board leaders after election season to discuss the need to build more schools in Morrisville.
Town leaders said they want to learn how future schools are planned and how school sites are identified. They also want to find out about the state of the town’s existing schools and the county’s plan to deal with overcrowding and growth.
“The need has been here in Morrisville for years,” said Councilwoman Margaret Broadwell. “Our population, with all ages of children, is growing tremendously. I think the school board recognizes our need, but their attention is on other areas because we’re not vocal as we should be.”
Councilman Michael Schlink has been talking to county commissioners and school board members since February about getting a middle school and high school in town.
Mayor Jackie Holcombe didn’t seem pleased that Schlink took such action on his own. She asked what other council members thought; most supported Schlink. The more dialogue with county officials the better, they said.
“I’d like for us to reach a consensus before reaching out to individual school board members,” Holcombe said. “I can tell you it’s confusing for them, especially when council members give them conflicting ideas.”
Councilman Steve Rao suggested a joint meeting involving the council, school board and county commission.
“Clearly we have a problem here,” he said. “We don’t have enough elementary schools here. They’re overcrowded.”
Wake intends to keep schools at between 95percent and 98percent capacity. Morrisville and Cedar Fork elementary schools are both about 105percent capacity, according to school figures.
Cedar Fork Elementary was built for 727 students, and it now has 767. The school has six mobile classrooms. Morrisville Elementary was built for 788 students and now enrolls 815, with five mobile classrooms, according to the school system.
Eleven new elementary schools are included in the bond issue, with several planned for western Wake County along the N.C. 540 corridor. Some of those new schools likely would enroll Morrisville students.
But the bond issue doesn’t include a middle or high school for Morrisville. Three new middle schools are planned for Raleigh, Knightdale and Apex. Two new high schools are planned for Apex and Garner.
Councilman Steve Diehl said the town needs to gather facts and data to show the need for more schools.
“We have no authority where a school goes in the county,” Diehl said. “We have to prove they are missing us in their system.”
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