Murray Elementary's project to solve traffic issues

Murray Elementary School is close to having renovations that could alleviate school traffic issues on Section House Road.
During Monday's Catawba County Schools Board of Education meeting, board members agreed on an option for the elementary school's main entrance to be moved to the south side or left of the building. In addition, six classrooms will be added to the right of the building.
The long-awaited renovations are possible after CCS received $6.3 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds. CCS Facilities Management Director Rick Sain said the estimated cost for construction, which includes roads, is $5 million. Other costs, such as design fees, will be added to the estimated cost.
By making these adjustments, Sain said there is a possibility for a new addition of Section House Road to intersect into a housing development across the road from Murray Elementary.
"Traffic is an issue," Sain said. "(This option) will alleviate some of the problems there with a student pick-up area around the back of the building, which will get some cars off Section House Road."
With the renovations, Sain said more parking will be available at the school. There will be parking for 60 staff members. The school parking lot will hold 100 additional vehicles during drop-off and pick-up times, as well as for school events, according to Sain.
"Hopefully, staff members will park before the drop-off and pick-up traffic comes in, so there's no conflict there," Sain said. "This (construction) option creates more stacking, so we can get vehicles off Section House Road (during pick-up and drop-off times)."
Murray Elementary School, which was built in 1975, sits on about 36 acres of land, but is positioned closer to Section House Road because of slopes around the property.
The six new classrooms will add 30,000 square feet to the building. Currently, Murray Elementary is 46,641 square feet. Sain said an average school is about 70,000 square feet. CCS' newest school, Snow Creek Elementary, is 80,000 square feet, and Mt. View Elementary School is 101,000 square feet.
"(Murray Elementary) was built like Tuttle Elementary as an open classroom format," Sain said. "The open classroom format is not working."
Sain said with the open classroom format, students had to pass through classrooms to get to another room, such as a media center. While most of the foot traffic comes at the end of a class, there are times when students must go to another part of the school while classes are in session.
"The Murray (Elementary) folks have been very patient," said CCS Public Information Officer Carleen Crawford. "It's great that we are going to be able to move forward on this project quickly."
The Board of Education will have a special meeting at 4 p.m. Oct. 11 at Murray Elementary School to review bids submitted for the project. The meeting is open to the public. The board's next regular meeting is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Annex Building.