Board of Aldermen request expansion of Old Airport Road ahead of planned charter school

The New Bern Board of Aldermen is encouraging the state Department of Transportation to widen Old Airport Road in the area of Creekside Park and a planned charter school. 

During their Dec. 12 meeting, the BOE approved a resolution as part of their consent agenda requesting that the road be widened due to the amount of traffic to and from the park and in light of the planned construction of a new charter school, Riverside Leadership Academy, at 1955 Old Airport Road.

“The school will generate additional traffic in an area that is already saturated with a high volume, and the safety of motorists is of great concern considering the width of the current road,” the resolution states. 

In September, the BOE approved a water and sewer use agreement with Hubrich Contracting, Inc., which is proposing to develop the new charter school on a vacant 27.81-acre property. The land is located just to the south of West Grantham Road near Creekside Park and is currently outside of the New Bern municipal limits.

Under the agreement, the City of New Bern will provide sewer and water service to the Old Airport Road property in an amount not to exceed 11,700 gallons per day utilizing the city’ s existing water main located at the northern terminus of Adell Lane on Conner Grant Road and the existing sewer manhole also located along Conner Grant Road.

Also approved as part of the BOA’s Dec. 12 consent agenda was a request from the property’s owners, the estate of Elisabeth S. Rabeler, seeking to have it annexed by the city. A public hearing has been set for Jan. 9, 2024 to consider the request. 

Riverside Leadership Academy applied for a charter in April 2022 and was approved by the North Carolina Board of Education the following February. The school announced in May of this year that it was planning to open a campus in New Bern in 2024. 

According to Siobhan Brewer, vice chair of the RLA Board of Directors, groundbreaking for the school is set to take place by the end of 2023, with a completion date for phase one construction tentatively set for August 2024.

The school will open with grades K-7, adding a grade each year until it serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

A second construction phase that will include a high school will take place several years later, according to Brewer. 

The application window for RLA’s 2024-25 school year opened on Dec. 1 and runs through Feb. 29, 2024. The school will accept 60 students per grade level, with a lottery held if more than that number apply. The school recently announced open enrollment for its 2024 lottery will be from January 1, 2024 to February 28, 2024. To find out more visit about RLA enrollment, visit their website.

Charter schools are tuition-free, independent public schools that are operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. A charter school, which is funded primarily through state and local tax dollars, is considered its own Local Education Agency.

Charter schools have open enrollment, cannot discriminate in admissions and cannot associate with any religion or religious group. They must admit any child residing in the state who is qualified to attend North Carolina schools regardless of which school district the child resides in.

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.