New Hanover County Schools




Frequently Asked Questions


Does New Hanover County Schools build multi-story schools?

Yes, New Hanover County Schools builds multi-story schools where appropriate. Due to tremendous growth in the county, the school system will continue developing plans for multi-story sites. There are some restrictions, however. National and state building codes require all kindergarten and first-grade students be housed on the ground floor and to have direct exits to the outdoors from all spaces they use, including classrooms, media centers and cafeterias. Due to these restrictions, most elementary schools are one-story buildings.

Does the school system reuse school designs?

The New Hanover County Schools does reuse the same plans, with minor modifications, since each site is different. This approach is one way that New Hanover County Schools saves costs. These schools were constructed using prototype designs: Eaton and Codington; Bradley Creek and Johnson; Laney and Hoggard; new Blair and Snipes; and new College Park and Porters Neck. Additionally, Murrayville Elementary School, and Anderson Elementary schools are prototypes of Freeman but with 6 additional classrooms.


How is school size determined?

New Hanover County Schools has developed Educational Specifications which base school size on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) guidelines and state mandates. These standards are curriculum-driven. Many changes have been made to the space standards over the years at the elementary, middle and high school level. The net-to-gross square footage has increased due to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and exit requirements. The affected areas include corridor widths, accessibility to toilets and mechanical systems, and size and quantity of stairwells for emergency exits.

How long does it take to design and build a school?

The school system builds schools as quickly and effectively as funds allow. On average, it takes New Hanover County Schools 31 months to design and build an elementary school, 38 months to design a middle school and 41 months to design and build a high school.


What size site is needed for elementary, middle and high schools?

The N. C. Department of Public Instruction and the Council of Education Facility Planners suggest the following areas as minimum acreage of usable land:
K - 6 10 + 1/100 ADM
5 - 8 15 + 1/100 ADM
7 - 9 20 + 1/100 ADM
9 - 12 30 + 1/100 ADM
A high school may need an additional 10 acres or more if a stadium and spectator parking is required. Usable land is often significantly less than the total site size, which allows for setbacks, buffers, right-of-ways, wetlands, stormwater control and adequate land for bus parking and queuing space for parent pickup. This is accounted for in a Net-To-Gross (NTG) factor.
Using the above suggestions, the minimum acreage of usable land for NHCS is as follows
Elementary Schools:
Grades K-5, 580 ADM, 20% NTG Factor, 10+6+3 =19 acres of usable land
Middle Schools:
Grades 6-8, 800 ADM, 17% NTG Factor, 15+8+4=27 acres of usable land
High Schools:
Grades 9-12, 1600 ADM, 15% NTG Factor, 30+16+10+8=64 acres of usable land