RSS officials target former Winn-Dixie site as new central office
By Sarah Nagem
School leaders have selected the former Winn-Dixie building off Jake Alexander Boulevard as the possible site of a central office.
But Rowan County officials will have to give the final seal of approval.
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted Monday to go forward with plans for the site, which would allow the school system to consolidate its current administration offices.
Talks of a central office have been in the works for a long time.
School board members Jim Emerson and Karen Carpenter, along with Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom and Assistant Superintendent of Operations Gene Miller, met with a committee of county leaders last month.
County officials said they would borrow up to $10 million for a central school office if the school system would pick up half the tab.
If the county borrows $10 million, the school system would have a bill of about $375,000 each year for 15 years.
“That’s big bucks,” Emerson said during the meeting on Monday.
But school leaders say a central office is a must. The Long Street building in East Spencer is showing its age, and school officials say consolidating the offices would save money in the long run on utility and travel costs.
Some board members said they had concerns about the former Winn-Dixie site.
“It’s hard to get in and out of there,” board member Bryce Beard said.
Board member Kay Wright Norman said navigating the area near the former grocery store is no more difficult than getting in and out of the current Ellis Street administration building.
The county and school system would pay a total of about $8.5 million to move into the site, Miller said. He said that’s about the same amount that would be needed to upgrade and add on to the Ellis Street location as a central office.
The Winn-Dixie site would have room for up to 240 parking spaces, Miller said. The Ellis Street site would have about 150 spaces.
A $2.6 million addition to the Winn-Dixie building is included in the price tag.
The board voted unanimously to move forward with the project. Board member Patty Williams was absent from the meeting.
The school system will likely save about $180,000 a year by consolidating its offices, Miller said. That money can go toward the $375,000 bill each year. The rest of the money can be covered by sales-tax revenue, he said.
School leaders could also sell or trade the Ellis Street building, Miller said.
Some school officials are scheduled to meet with a committee of county leaders Sept. 17.
On Monday, school board members agreed to try to get the issue on the Sept. 15 agenda of the county commissioners’ meeting.