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After over a decade, Isaac Bear students could move out of a trailer and into a new facility

Isaac Bear Early College High School.
Benjamin Schachtman
Isaac Bear Early College High School.

On Friday, July 16, UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli gave an update to the Board of Trustees on how the university is progressing on its strategic goals. The chancellor and his staff identified Hurricane Florence, the pandemic, and improving diversity as top challenges facing the school. But possibly, there's some good news too -- including millions for new campus renovations.

In the North Carolina Senate budget proposal, there’s $250 million each year for six years for the University of North Carolina System’s capital projects -- and the UNC Board of Governors prioritizes them. And, according to UNCW Board of Trustee Member Malcomb Coley, Isaac Bear might finally get a new school building — a project that both parents and advocates have been pushing for over a decade.

“The Senate provides $994,000 for UNCW to plan a new facility for Isaac Bear Early College High School contingent upon reaching an agreement with New Hanover County Schools on a location and construction funding for the county," Coley said.

For years, UNCW and NHCS have failed to come to an agreement about how to improve Isaac Bear's facility — while parents have grown increasingly frustrated at the situation. Many point to a bitter contrast: the school is home to some of the region's most gifted and highest-scoring students, with a 100% graduation rate (and over 95% of graduates going on to higher education) — but these students attend classes in an outdated modular unit that was never designed to serve them long-term, eating lunches in the hallway, or on a make-shift concrete patio out back.

More on the issues at Issac Bear from Port City Daily: Isaac Bear Early College parents have new and long-term concerns. Here’s where things stand

The promise of state funding should help NHCS and UNCW get on the same page when it comes to Issac Bear — but there's other potentially good news, as well. Coley also says the Senate budget proposal includes funding for the Randall Library expansion and the Center for Marine Science renovation.

The state House is still drafting their budget. Then both the Senate and House will have come up with a compromise bill to present to Governor Roy Cooper.

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR