“The new Grier Middle School is an investment that will benefit students and families for many years to come.
We are grateful for the opportunity to build this school, which will be another crown jewel for our community.”
— W. Jeffrey Booker, Superintendent of Schools
Transformation in store for Grier Middle School campus
The Grier Middle School campus is about to undergo a transformation. Come 2025, students, teachers, and staff will have a new, 155,000 square-foot school building that is sure to become a showplace for learning in the heart of Gastonia.
Most of the planning and architectural design work has taken place. Once a general contractor is hired, dirt will be moved, foundations will be poured, and a modern school will take shape. A summertime groundbreaking will mark the ceremonial beginning of construction, which is expected to take two years. If all goes as planned, the new school will be ready in 2025.
The new Grier Middle will be located on the same 25 acres of land along East Garrison Boulevard where the existing school sits. The school will be built on what is now the football field; the old building will be demolished to make way for a new sports complex. The site plan includes more space for parking and additional entrances to improve on-campus traffic flow.
“Essentially, construction will happen in two phases,” said Morgen Houchard, executive director of auxiliary services, who is overseeing the project. “The school will be built first in a space adjacent to the Schiele Museum with the front of the building facing Garrison Boulevard. Once the school is complete, the old building will be vacated and torn down to make space for the athletic fields. This is the same approach we took when building the new Stanley Middle School, capitalizing on use of the land that we have by flipping the location of the school building and the fields.”
The new, two-story school will house 1,000 students with the ability to accommodate as many as 1,200. It will include more than 40 contemporary classrooms; various instructional, office, and conference spaces; a multi-use media center and library; a large cafeteria and multipurpose room; and a modern gymnasium, which will be located behind the main building. Once the new school opens, it will take another year to remove the old building and build the football, softball, and baseball fields.
Named for W.P. Grier, who was superintendent of the Gastonia City Schools for 20 years (1921-1941), the school opened in 1956 with about 800 students in grades 1-9; it housed junior high school students only after the elementary grades were moved to the new Sherwood Elementary in 1969. A building with a gymnasium, office space, and music classrooms was added to the front of the school in the mid-1980s.
The cost to build a new Grier campus is estimated at $50-$60 million, a price that is higher than previous middle school construction projects because of inflation. School bonds, which were approved by voters in May 2018, will be used to pay for the new school. Building on the existing campus saves taxpayer funds because no land has to be purchased.
The new Grier is part of the Board of Education’s efforts to replace aging school campuses that are being used as middle schools. Grier is the third facility to be replaced – a new Stanley Middle opened in March 2018, and a new Belmont Middle opened in August 2021.
Renovation and repair projects in progress at many of our schools
By approving a $250 million bond referendum in 2018, the citizens of Gaston County “showed us the money,” which has resulted in hundreds of improvement projects taking place at schools across the county.
From flooring to lighting, roofing to fencing, and libraries to athletic fields, the list is extensive, and much time, energy, and money have gone toward school upgrades and renovations. And, there are more to come in 2023.
In just the past year alone, roofing work has been completed or is in progress at 12 schools, parking lot paving is taking place at 11 schools, flooring is a focus at 10 schools, and lighting projects are making things brighter at 11 schools. Additionally, there has been fencing work at 15 schools, school signage improvements at eight schools, and drainage work at six schools.
Perhaps most noticeable by students, teachers, and parents is renovation efforts in school libraries/media centers. Library work, which ranges from new book shelves, seating, and furniture to painting, lighting, and carpet, has taken place at 18 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 10 high schools. Current projects include library upgrades at Bessemer City Primary, Bessemer City Central, Chapel Grove Elementary, Cramerton Middle, and Mount Holly Middle.
Another area that is getting attention is athletic fields at middle schools and high schools. The work includes repairing the ground/surface areas for stadiums as well as softball, soccer, and practice fields. Also included are irrigation and drainage repairs at six high schools.
Approximately $23.5 million from the school bonds has already been invested in school repair and renovation projects, and another $20 million to $30 million is expected to be issued by the county this year. While most of the funding comes from the school bonds, money that is allocated by the county for capital improvements/maintenance is also being used.
From the "Storybook"
These articles appeared in the "Gaston County Schools Storybook," which was printed in February 2023.
Click here for a PDF of the publication to read more great stories from Gaston County Schools.