School board experiences conflict over central office

Tempers flared at the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education meeting Monday, stemming from an update on the district’s central office building.

In other news

In other news, the Board of Education:

• Asked Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann to compile a list of surplus property the district owns. At the next business meeting, the board will decide which, if any, it wishes to sell to do away with the insurance availability.

• Finalized three policies regarding the use of technology within the district. The policies covered responsible usage of technology, Internet safety and employee usage of social media.

• Approved first-reads of policies and regulations dealing with the authority of school personnel; school plans for the management of student behavior; rules for the use of seclusion and restraint in schools; parental involvement; staff-student relations and prohibition against discrimination, harassment and bullying.

• Approved the annual agreement between the district and the YMCA, which allows the district to use its facilities for swim meets, banquets, training and other events. In return, the YMCA is able to hold after-school care programs at Rowan-Salisbury schools.

• Discussed matching funds applications for projects for individual schools. The board toyed with the idea of only allowing the money to go toward safety projects. It will discuss for what and how to administer the matching funds at the board’s next meeting.

• Discussed forming a foundation to support professional development for Rowan-Salisbury teachers. The foundation would raise money on behalf of the Rowan-Salisbury School System, but would be completely separate from the district.

• Listened to a presentation of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which governs how school systems respond to homeless students.

• Discussed how the state budget, if signed into law by Gov. McCrory, would affect teacher pay and other school system expenses. On average, teachers would receive a 7 percent raise.

• Received an update from Vann on Energy Systems Group’s energy performance contract.

• The board approved SFL+A Architects to draw up plans for updates and improvements for Knox Middle School and the proposed elementary school in the western part of the county.

Two sets of plans for the building were drawn up when the project was initially proposed at the 320 S. Main St. property in Salisbury — one for a 48,000 square foot building and another for a 62,000 building.

When the project moved to land on the 500-block of N. Main Street, the board decided to keep the previously drawn plans to avoid new design costs.

The board decided to build the smaller building.

“Based on our current budget, we can’t build the larger one,” said Anthony Vann, assistant superintendent of operations.

“It’s just a smarter, leaner building than we’ve had before,” he said, adding the district plans to use space better than before by sharing conference rooms and adding more collaborative space.

Another reason for the smaller building, Vann said, is the fit on the property is “extremely tight.”

With the current plans, the building’s back wall will only stand six feet away from Shulenburger Surveying and is very close to Duke Energy’s power lines.

As a result, contractors will have to use different footings for the building, make the back wall a fire wall with no windows and have Duke Energy move the powerlines. Each of those changes will add additional cost to the building.

“We’d be a whole lot better off if we had that property,” Vann said as the board discussed possibly buying the property from Shulenburger Surveying.

‘You’re going to pay it either way,’ he added, saying it was up to the board members to decide where they wanted to spend their money.

Board member Josh Wagner said he could not personally support moving forward on the project with the additional expenses that keep coming up.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said it was unrealistic not to expect expenses to pop up throughout the construction process.

“I have yet to build a building that we haven’t run into unexpected costs,” she said.

“It happens,” said board member L.A. Overcash, who works in construction.

Later in the meeting, Chairman of the Board Dr. Richard Miller asked members of the board to bring up any issues they had with each other before talking to other people about those issues.

His comments were in response to an email he received from a news station concerning a meeting between himself, Vann, Moody, Mayor Paul Woodson, former City Manager Doug Paris and Clay Lindsay, who owned the North Main Street property before the Wallaces purchased it for the school board.

During the meeting, Lindsay asked if he could have the contract to build the central office.

Miller, Vann and Moody report the request was immediately denied.

But after the meeting, Paris sent an email saying he couldn’t recommend the city’s continued participation in the project if Lindsay were to get the contract.

The email insinuates that we “cooked something up,” Miller said.

Moody said she was confused why Paris sent out the email in the first place.

“It’s our response that’s critically important,” she said. “It was clear that we weren’t going to do that.”

“We never, ever agreed to that,” Moody said.

Wagner said he was upset that the request, even though it was denied, wasn’t brought to the attention of the board.

It made the board look bad when the email was released, he said.

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