School board members prefer option of larger central office

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
Members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education made it clear Monday they need plenty of space in a central office.
The school board is telling Rowan County leaders they prefer a possible deal that includes a second-story addition to the former Winn-Dixie building on Jake Alexander Boulevard, board chairman Dr. Jim Emerson said.
The other option calls for a renovation of the existing space in the building.
The first plan ó with the second-story addition ó would give school administrators 58,600 square feet of space.
The bill, including the building purchase, renovations, architectural fees and furniture, would be about $9 million.
The second plan ó which calls for renovating the 42,600 square feet of space in the building ó would cost about $6.5 million.
Emerson and school board member Karen Carpenter, along with Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom and Assistant Superintendent of Operations Gene Miller, have been in talks with some county leaders about a central office.
Either option, as laid out by County Manager Gary Page, would include a $750,000 contribution from the school system and another $300,000 from the sale of the Ellis Street administration building.
Other than that, according to plans, the county and the school system could split the costs.
Under the option that provides more space, the county would pay about $3.9 million over 15 years, plus about $380,00 in interest, Miller said. Schools would pay about $5 million and interest.
Under the smaller option, the county would pay about $2.7 million, plus about $260,000 in interest, he said. The school system’s bill would be about $3.8 million and interest.
While the second option is cheaper, some school board members said it wouldn’t be big enough.
“We’re in more square footage than that now,” Miller said.
About 155 school system employees operate in a total of 51,300 square feet in four administrative locations, he said.
Board member Bryce Beard said the system needs at least 53,000 square feet.
School administrators need extra space, Miller said, because it is hard for them to work in cubicles. School leaders must meet privately with visitors and hold board meetings, he said.
The school system also wants room to grow, he said.
County commissioners are expected to make decisions regarding a central office at their meeting Oct. 6.
“I really think the potential is there to see this happen,” Carpenter said.
Also during the school board meeting Monday:
– Board members considered a draft of a district improvement plan for 2008-2010.
The tentative plan includes five goals, like providing a “rigorous, relevant curriculum” and recruiting highly qualified staff.
The board will approve or request changes to the plan at its meeting next month.
– The board agreed to hire a coordinator for the Learning, Intervention, Nurturing, Knowledge and Student Achievement Project.
Carol Ann Houpe of Rockwell will oversee the LINKS Project, which is part of a $6 million Safe Schools/Healthy Schools grant.
The Rowan-Salisbury system will receive the money over the next four years to combat issues like drug and alcohol abuse and bullying.
Houpe is currently executive director of the Adolescent & Family Enrichment Council in Salisbury.
– The board recognized a moment of silence for Marilyn Webb, a sixth-grade science and social studies teacher at Southeast Middle who died in a car wreck Friday.
Webb, 50, was on her way to school Friday morning when a truck collided head-on with her car on U.S. 52 near Gold Hill.
“She is a treasure that will be sorely missed,” Emerson said.