NCSSM Board of Trustees Approves Site Recommendation for NCSSM-Morganton

Representatives of the Core Planning Team (l-r): Darren Lathan, Hugh Holston, Tom Williams, Trip Stallings, Michael Helmick, Myra Halpin, Phil Breitfeld, Ellen Collett, Mason Matthews, Jamie Lathan, Terry Lynch, Kevin Baxter

The Board of Trustees for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) met in Durham today for the fourth scheduled meeting of 2016-2017.  During the meeting, a comprehensive update on the planning process for the western campus was presented. This included an overview of engagement activities connected to advanced planning from Kevin Baxter, Director of Western Campus Planning at NCSSM; initial recommendations for the educational programmatic vision from Trip Stallings, Director of Policy Research at the Friday Institute; and a report of the site evaluation process from Darren Lathan, Senior Associate at Duda|Paine Architects.

During the western campus update, a formal recommendation of the site location in Morganton was presented to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees approved the recommendation that the NCSSM-Morganton campus be located on the eastern ridge of the North Carolina School for the Deaf, a property currently managed by the state’s Department of Public Instruction. This decision follows months of research and on-site analysis by Duda|Paine Architects and resulting consensus that was achieved among members of the NCSSM Western Campus Core Planning Team. Chancellor Todd Roberts also endorsed the recommendation that advanced to the Board of Trustees.

“Today’s action by the NCSSM Board of Trustees represents a milestone for our institution,” says Tom Williams, Chair of the NCSSM Board of Trustees. “We are excited to continue our western campus planning efforts with an eye toward presenting the overall educational program vision in Morganton later this year.”

The proposed site was selected among three options that are each located within the 800-acres adjacent to I-40 and bordered by Burkemont Avenue, Fleming Drive, Sterling Street, and Enola Road. The eastern ridge of the North Carolina School for the Deaf emerged as the preferred location following an analysis of a multitude of factors to include safety and security, green space, and connectivity to downtown and educational partners. The recommendation was celebrated by members of the NCSSM community and partners across the state.

“Today’s announcement is a positive next step for greater educational access for our citizens in the Unifour region of our state,” says Margaret Spellings, President of the University of North Carolina. “The creation of an NCSSM campus in western North Carolina will strengthen our efforts to deliver a world-class STEM education to many more of our state’s most talented students, and I applaud Chancellor Roberts and the members of the NCSSM Board of Trustees for their leadership and vision.”

Mark Johnson, North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, agrees. “The expansion of NCSSM is exciting for students and families all across North Carolina,” says Johnson. “The western campus will provide more opportunities for students on one of the most beautiful settings in the entire state. I look forward to all the collaboration ahead for North Carolina students and educators at the western campus.”

State Representative Hugh Blackwell shares similar excitement about the project. “Having worked hard to bring a new North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to Burke County and western North Carolina,” he says, “I am elated with the announcement that an actual building site for the new school has been identified. This puts us in excellent position to stay on schedule to admit the first students in fall 2021.”

The Board of Trustees also received a draft report of the educational programmatic vision for the new campus during the meeting. The report includes a series of recommendations informed by thousands of recommendations that were shared through surveys, focus groups, design charrettes, and community events. The Western Campus Core Planning Team will continue to update the vision after receiving additional feedback at summer listening tour sessions across the state. These outreach activities will be announced in early June and will allow members of the NCSSM community to come together with educators, elected officials, and businesspeople to share reflections and recommendations for the educational program.

The advance planning process will culminate in a presentation of the final educational program vision to the NCSSM Board of Trustees during their meeting in Morganton on September 29, 2017. Updates on the process will continue to be shared on the NCSSM-Morganton online dashboard and the accompanying website:   

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