School Siting Overview
Land acquisition procedures are managed through the CCS Operations Department. This is a collaborative effort with Chatham County Government and outside consultants that considers projected student population, existing school capacity, and present school locations to determine facility needs throughout Chatham County. Potential school sites in a designated target area are identified in conjunction with the Chatham County Planning Department and analyzed for suitability by an outside firm experienced in new school construction. The goal of this process is to open the new school or addition at the right time and to locate them in the best place to meet the educational needs of both present and future student populations.
Each potential site for location and construction of schools, administrative, or support facilities must undergo a rigorous review before final decisions are made. Some of the factors considered include:
- Sufficient acreage of a proper shape to accommodate necessary buildings, structures, fields, and other improvements for current and future projects.
- Appropriate zoning for intended use.
- The presence, proximity, and availability of public utilities.
- Likely off-site infrastructure costs for projected sewer and water services.
- Consultant generated optimization scenarios
- Accessibility for students and the community.
- Likely costs for projected related road improvements.
- Environmental conditions on the site and surrounding area.
- Potential site development cost variables, including raw land costs, presence and extent of wetlands and stream buffers, soil conditions, presence of rock, buildable area sufficiency.
Consideration is also given to adaptive reuse opportunities for purchase of an existing building or structure that is suitable or could be cost effectively made suitable for school, administrative, or support use. An example of this approach is the CCS Maintenance Facility located in the former Moore Manufacturing facility in Siler City.
Once a site is selected, negotiations for site acquisition begin with the landowner. A commercial realtor experienced in purchasing school property performs this step on behalf of the district. If the landowner is unwilling to sell after negotiations are reasonably exhausted, under North Carolina law the Board of Education can consider condemnation of the property, and acquire the property by eminent domain in exchange for just compensation. This approach is generally considered only in cases when all alternatives have been exhausted and no other reasonable choice is available.
After a contract for acquisition of real property is negotiated and agreed upon by the landowner, it is presented to the Board of Education for approval, along with the preliminary analysis of the property to support the agreed-upon contract price.
Extensive due diligence studies are completed to thoroughly investigate and examine the property, and to confirm its suitability for the intended use.
Once suitability is confirmed and requested off site infrastructure costs are obtained, the Board of Education votes to approve the site purchase and to request funding approval from the County Commissioners. After the County Commissioners approve funding the purchase price, a real estate attorney finalizes the closing process and the site becomes property of Chatham County Schools.
Land acquisition funding is included in the annual Capital Improvement Program, which is approved by the Chatham County Board of Education and Chatham County Board of Commissioners. These projects are funded using a debt model or capital reserves approach as determined by the County Manager’s Office.