NHC high schools overcrowded; leaders discuss future

NHC high schools overcrowded; leaders discuss future
(Source: WECT)
(Source: WECT)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Many of your students' schools are bursting at the seams. Every high school in New Hanover County is over capacity.

Laney High School has the largest population and is overcapacity by 747 students and has a total of 2,242 students.

The second largest population is Ashley High School. School leaders report the school is almost 400 students over its limit.

Ashley High parent Wes Knight said he is upset by the congestion. He says his son walks shoulder to shoulder in the hallways since it's so crowded.

"There are teachers who don't have classrooms, who are floating teachers, they're looking for a place they have no consistency in what they're teaching because they don't have a home base, you know, they can't do things in the class," Knight said. "It's bad for the students I think."

Knight added he thinks leaders should have been better prepared for the growing population.

"Between traffic, number of kids, facility usage, we're so far behind. I don't know how we're going to catch up at this point," Knight explained passionately.

School leaders said the $160 million from the bond voters won't really help solve these issues.

However, the bond will help pay for about six new classrooms at Laney High School.

Officials said many years from now after the new elementary school is built in the Porter's Neck area, Trask Middle School will relocate to the NHCS's property they purchased from the Rock Church. The old Trask building will be a center for 9th graders at Laney.

School board members Bruce Shell and Lisa Estep said the board has been looking into building a new high school but don't have the $40 to $50 million for the project.

The board members said they are trying to create a new program that should help with the growth.

"What is underway is a consideration to start a vocational high school, which will certainly not have the numbers of a new high school, but would pull enough folks out of that to where all the other high schools would be within their capacity numbers or at least close," Shell noted.

Estep said the vocational school should be able to accommodate 500 students.

Estep added since the school would be a partnership with Cape Fear Community College, the college's buildings would be available for their use.

The preliminary estimated costs for the new school is about $10 million.

The board members admit there is no easy fix, but said they will continue to try their best to serve the growing population.

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