The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 27, 2013

Charter school building construction on target

MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

TARBORO — The construction of North East Carolina Prep School (NECP)’s new building is on target.

“The first day of school is Aug. 1, and we are confident that we will be ready,” said Taro Knight, director of communications/ community outreach for NECP. “I’m confident that we will have some sort of certificate of occupancy by July 15.”

The approximate 80,000-square-foot, two-story building will house 495 fifth-through-ninth grade students. Fifth and sixth grade students’ classrooms will be downstairs, while seventh, eighth and ninth grade students’ classrooms will be upstairs.

“It’s a big school for such a small community,” said Jack Seguin, project manager for Michigan-based Bouma Construction. He said the construction crew is on target to turn over the building to NECP for occupancy on July 15, but might have “little things” to do on the inside of the building after that.

“I haven’t had a day off in 52 days,” said Seguin. The brickwork on the building is complete, exterior siding work is nearing completion, and Seguin’s crew has turned its attention to the interior – painting the walls, and laying ceramic tiles in the bathrooms and the corridors. Classrooms are being painted alternately in the school colors of red and yellow.

NECP has 911 students for the upcoming school year, with 129 students on the waiting list. That’s more than double the number of students the charter school had in its opening year (last year) – about 400.

“We could not get 911 students in the two buildings we currently have on campus,” Knight said. He said while the new school building won’t change NECP’s educational model, it would offer a more spacious learning environment for students.

“Our middle school students will have more room. They will have access to more technology,” Knight said. The science rooms will be fully set up for labs and experimentation, equipped with gas, water, clean-up areas and storage areas.

“The kind of stuff we’re putting in there you see in junior colleges,” Seguin said. “It’s set up real nice.”

The new school also has additional safety features at the entrance of the building.

“If someone comes to the front door, they don’t have access,” Seguin said. “They have to be recognized.”

The receptionist has the option of buzzing the person into the reception area, finding out what business they have at the school, and then buzzing them into the main building, he said.

Another feature of the new school is a regulation-size gymnasium, which can double as an auditorium, with a large stage for performances.

Just outside the gymnasium is a full basketball court.

“It also allows us to participate in interscholastic athletics,” Knight said. “We feel athletics is a necessary extracurricular activity that schools need. It enhances what we want to do academically.”

NECP is in the process of constructing a baseball field behind the main school building, as well. Located on 52 acres on Husky Trail, off Howard Avenue Extension, the school has plenty of room to grow.

Knight attributes NECP’s growth to the quality of education it offers to students.

“We are doing our best to offer parents in the counties that we serve a public school choice,” he said. “We want to continually get better, continually find a way to better serve students in our area, so that they can go out and compete with other students not just in North Carolina but throughout the country.”

The ultimate goal at NECP is to educate children to be able to “think critically, to be able to see the world for themselves and be able to make their own judgments…I think that’s the goal of all public education,” Knight said.