ABSS agrees to pay $2.1 million for new school site

The Alamance-Burlington School System agreed last week to pay $2,142,500 for a 96-acre tract of land along N.C. Highway 119 in the Haw River/Swepsonville area, on which the school district’s seventh high school will be constructed. The $2.1 million purchase price brings ABSS in significantly under budget for anticipated land purchase costs, and sets the stage for construction to begin later this year on the new school. The plan remains to begin welcoming students to the new high school in time for the 2023-24 school year. 

The new high school that will serve future Mebane and southeastern Alamance County students has an official location. The Alamance-Burlington School System’s Board of Education voted unanimously last week to purchase a 96-acre tract of property along N.C. Highway 119 in Haw River, approximately a mile north of the Honda Plant in Swepsonville, and approximately seven miles north of downtown Mebane. 

Back in September, the Enterprise reported that ABSS leaders had focused in on a specific property along N.C. Highway 119. The property is well-situated between Eastern Alamance and Southern Alamance High Schools - an area that has seen significant residential growth in recent years. 

ABSS is purchasing the property from the Scott family for $2,142,500 - significantly less than the anticipated $3 million that was budgeted as part of the new school planning process. 

“It’s approximately 100 acres,” ABSS Assistant Superintendent for Operations Dr. Todd Thorpe said of the Haw River property during a fall meeting on the new school project. “It’s a large piece of land. But for a high school, to be able to put in all the athletic complexes, it’s going to take up the majority of the land.” 

The ABSS’s high school redistricting process has effectively split Mebane in half, with students living in residences north of I-40/I-85 up to Gibson Road and U.S. Highway 70 projected to still attend Eastern Alamance High School, and all students living south of the freeway districted to the new high school. 

Construction will take place over the next couple years on the new school site, with plans still in place to begin welcoming students in time for the 2023-2024 school year. 

The proposed $67 million new school project will be conducted under a Construction Manager at Risk format, in which a contracting company will complete the project for a pre-established amount, so there are no surprises at the completion of the project. If the project comes in under budget, the Construction Manager at Risk pockets the difference as profit. If the project comes in over budget, the CMR is on the hook for the overage. 

“The CMR (Construction Manager at Risk) company (in charge of completing the project) comes in to get value for the dollars they’ve got,” Dr. Thorpe explained. “In the school system, we’re in the business of building for 50, 75 years. We’ve established that it (the new high school) will be there for a hundred years if we take care of it.”