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Rowan-Salisbury School System capital fund cut by 61 percent next year

By Maggie Blackwell
mblackwell@salisburypost.com
With a 61 percent cut in next year’s capital budget, the Rowan-Salisbury School System will maintain, recycle and make minimal improvements, but will not take on major projects, members of the system’s buildings and grounds committee heard Thursday.
School board member Karen Carpenter and others on the committee went over the numbers with Assistant Superintendent for Operations Gene Miller.
Land, buildings and improvements are budgeted at $1.9 million for next year, about half this year’s total. The line items include security systems and updated telephones for all high schools and most middle schools, ongoing roof replacements and completion of the high school athletic renovations.
Also listed in this category is $690,000 for alterations and additions as requested by the schools. The school system keeps a list of all requested improvements, and the total runs in the millions. Each year, Miller works with individual schools to prioritize the requests and accomplishes what he can with available funds.
About $1 million was spent in the same category this year.
Security systems at Knox Middle School and Salisbury High are nearing completion. Installation begins soon on North and West high schools, Horizons and Henderson, with completion anticipated by the first of August. Under the new budget, Miller will receive bids this summer for systems at East and South high schools and China Grove and North middle schools. Those systems will be installed sometime in the fall.
Furniture and equipment is budgeted at $595,000, slightly less than this year’s $724,000. Cuts were made to mowing equipment and furniture, although many line items remain the same.
Miller noted the “matching funds” items have been preserved. This money provides funds to schools that raise money for specific causes, including new band uniforms. In effect, the school system gets “twice the bang for the buck,” Miller said.
The total for vehicle purchases is cut from $130,000 to only $24,000, and the money will be used only if a vehicle becomes unusable, such as from an accident. The money was budgeted for emergency purposes only, Miller said.
New building codes require schools’ fire alarms to tie into the central fire department, and some recent inspections have prompted notes that most Rowan-Salisbury schools are not.
Six schools do meet the new requirement: China Grove, Shive, Koontz and Millbridge elementary schools, China Grove Middle and Carson High. Because the law is new, existing schools are grandfathered, or exempted from the requirement.
Miller noted installing the connection is relatively cheap, at about $28,000, but monitoring costs would run $25,000 per year. The expense has not yet been budgeted.
In other news, Miller shared that a climate-controlled storage building has been purchased for all items currently stored on the balcony at the system’s Long Street building in East Spencer.
The balcony sags and its safety has been deemed unreliable. To prevent injury, all items stored on it will be moved to the new building, which will be installed on the grounds at the Long Street location.
Miller will present final results in the fall of any energy savings accrued from school employees working four 10-hour days each week this summer. At this time, he estimates savings will be about $150,000.

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