Two schools eyeing expansions

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 05:50 PM

Two High Point schools — one charter and one private — are in growth mode.
The city’s Planning & Zoning Commission has endorsed requests from Wesleyan Education Center and Phoenix Academy Foundation that would allow them to build new campuses.
The commission recommended approval of rezoning and special use permit requests from Wesleyan Education Center, the legal entity that operates the private Wesleyan Christian Academy at 1917 N. Centennial Street.
Wesleyan is proposing to build a new campus on 66 acres at the southwest corner of Sandy Ridge Road and Johnson Street just north of High Point.
Head of School Rob Brown said Wesleyan is landlocked at its current location and has a waiting list for its high school. It operates a pre-kindergarten child care program, as well as grades kindergarten through high school that serve about 1,275 students.
The new campus would allow it to add about 200 students to its total enrollment, Brown said. The school anticipates making use of the new site in phases, with development of athletic fields the initial goal, he added.
Facilities are needed for the school’s baseball, track and field and lacrosse teams, which currently use off-campus space.
The timing of the school’s move will depend on how fundraising goes and whether Wesleyan pursues a sale of its current campus, which is an option, Brown said.
“The new property puts us in the center of the Triad, where we feel like we can grow to meet our needs,” said Brown.
Murray Lane, who lives across the street from the site, spoke against the school’s plans during a recent zoning hearing. He said light from athletic fields, an increase in traffic volume and other impacts from a new school would change the character of what he described as a quiet residential area.
“This would light the whole thing up and make it very noisy,” Lane said.
The City Council will consider rezoning, special use permit and voluntary annexation requests for the project on May 20.
Phoenix Academy, a charter school located at 4020 Meeting Way in Piedmont Centre, is seeking to expand on to 56 acres at Clinard Farms and Barrow roads.
Phoenix Academy, which was High Point’s first charter school when it opened 12 years ago, is proposing to build a kindergarten through 12th grade school to serve about 1,500 students. The school now operates kindergarten through 5th grade and has about 310 students.
“They’ve been successful for 12 years and their success is driving this growth,” said Brian Hall of Samet Corp., who is representing the academy.
The school wants to use a site that consists of four parcels. A developer in 2006 proposed a mixed-use residential and commercial project on the site that never transpired, and the property was acquired after going through a recent foreclosure.
The school plans to grow in stages, with a first building that could accommodate up to 400 students. The school could grow to a total build-out of 147,000 square feet to accommodate an elementary, middle and high school.
Phoenix Academy does not have a formal athletic program, so there are no plans for playing fields, although it does plan to implement an equestrian program on the campus, Hall said.
The commission recommended approval of rezoning requests associated with the expansion, which council will hear May 20.