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FOCUSED on CHCCS Facilities

Dr. H w Al Ciarochi

What does a community member, a parent, a district employee need to know about the state of the facilities in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools?

For starters, of 19 schools, nearly 45% of them opened more than 50 years ago! Many of those schools have undergone extensive renovations over the years. Deputy Chief of Operations, Al Ciarochi, said, “We're at a very pivotal point where we've got to make some really tough decisions about not just a short term with essential maintenance, but where we’re going when it comes to funding and the facilities that need major renovations – and even consideration for replacement, given the age of some of our facilities.”

As district leaders look at all of our schools, the importance of where the learning takes place becomes more clear. Education isn’t just about curriculum and instruction, it is also about the classroom and the school building and grounds.

“What I tell all of our parents is to continue to advocate for what's best for children, for the staff
and for learning,” Ciarochi continued, “but to work towards ensuring there is adequate and sustained funding for the immediate needs that we have within our facilities – and also looking down the road 10 to 15 years.”

“You look at what we would consider our newer schools, which in reality aren't that new,” he said. “Those schools are embarking upon 25, 30 years of age, so though they don't need substantial renovations, they are at a point where there is major maintenance.”

Ciarochi said the district must evaluate what it costs to replace individual systems within a building, versus replacing an entire school. As needs are assessed, the obvious top priority is safety and security. But also critically important are roofing projects, as well as heating and ventilation. “Obviously post-Covid we know that there are some best practices when it comes to indoor air quality that we have to continue to maintain that were not taken into consideration before the pandemic.”

Looking at CHCCS schools is a great example of how educational architecture has changed throughout the decades. Moving forward, it’s important to not only look at what’s needed for schools today, but ask how our district can build and maintain schools that will continue to be effective for many years to come. 

To see the FOCUSED video for the CHCCS facilities, click here.