Erwin Elementary’s Days Are Numbered

Old school will close when last bell rings this year

The Harnett County School board voted Monday morning to officially close Erwin’s elementary school even as they await final planning for its new replacement.

The school board voted unanimously to move all students, who now attend class at Erwin Elementary School, to Gentry Primary School until a new school is built on the Erwin site. The move is slated to take place on the first day of the 2019-20 school year, in August.

County commissioners voted earlier this year to officially approve the spending of $23.4 million to replace the old building with a new school.

The money is contingent upon the passage of the county budget which is expected later this month and the issuance of general obligation bonds which requires the approval of the local government commission.

The bond package will also include construction of a new elementary school in the northwest part of the county and the renovation of the old Benhaven Elementary School building to turn it into an early college for the western part of the county.

Assistant Harnett County Manager Brian Haney said the Erwin project cannot move forward until the commission approves the issuance of the bonds. There is no timeline in place as to when the commission will give approval to the bond issuance.

School officials say mobile classrooms may be added to the Gentry site and other necessary work will be done to clear the way for Erwin students to begin attending class there. They are confident the school is large enough to meet the needs of all students.

It is estimated that construction of the new school could take as long as two years which would include the demolition of the old building on the Erwin site. When the new building opens at Erwin it will result in the closing of the Gentry campus for educational purposes. The current school building at the Gentry site, on Maynard Lake Road could be used for another purpose.

The Erwin Elementary School building has had several maintenance issues in recent months. Pieces of cement have fallen from walls and ceiling fans have fallen from ceilings. In one incident an awning at the school collapsed. No students were injured.

Town leaders have addressed both the boards of education and commissioners several times about having a replacement school built. The town was a strong supporter of leaving the school in the center of Erwin, preferably on the same site where the old school now sits.

Officials estimate it will take an additional $27.6 million to build a new elementary school in the northwest part of the county and $2.9 million to renovate Benhaven.

-Dunn Daily Record