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Superintendent’s office on aisle seven? School board considers former Winn-Dixie store to house administrative offices

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Another possible site for administrative offices for the Rowan-Salisbury School System has been tossed into the mix.
At their monthly meeting Monday, members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education heard a presentation concerning purchasing the former Winn-Dixie grocery store at the intersection of Lincolnton Road and Jake Alexander Boulevard for conversion to a central office.
The presentation given board members Monday was brief and made by Gene Miller, assistant superintendent for operations. He said the building is about 43,000 square feet, well below the 55,000 to 65,000 square feet a new central office will need.
But Miller said there’s a wide strip in front of the former grocery store that might be used to build an additional 20,000-square-foot two-story building.
“It has a lot of potential to it,” Miller said of the site.
He promised to address board members at their April meeting and update them concerning the former Winn-Dixie site. Miller said he’d have an estimate of costs for the building and addition at that next meeting.
He said Bill Burgin of Ramsay, Burgin and Smith Architects is figuring a rough estimate of the price of renovating the building and its addition.
According to Rowan County officials, the asking price for the building is approximately $2.3 million. Miller said the building is owned by John Letherman and said one of the advantages of the site is the sea of parking ó at least 250 spaces ó that’s included.
The school system’s current central offices fill 51,000 square feet. A search for a new central office site has been in the works for years and a number of locations have been considered.
Miller told board members Monday that the former Winn-Dixie was considered as a new home for the Rowan County Department of Social Services, though county officials eventually determined it wasn’t large enough.
Last month, during a retreat involving members of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, members heard from Miller, who pleaded with them to fund a new central office.
“I will beg, plead, grovel … whatever it takes to get a new building,” Miller told commissioners.
Arnold Chamberlain, commissioners chairman, said at the retreat that he was convinced of the need for a new central office.
In other matters handled at Monday’s meeting, school board members:
– Approved the second reading of increases in elementary and middle school instructional fees. The matter was approved 6-to-1, with board member Patty Williams casting the dissenting vote.
– Heard that members of a District Accreditation team will visit the system April 13-16. The accreditation is an event that the system goes through about once every five years.
– Approved a first reading of the Exceptional Children/English as a Second Language task force recommendations.
– Approved a 2008-2009 budget request made by the Budget and Finance subcommittee seeking a $2.9 million increase in county funding.
– Approved a first reading of a board policy regarding possession, use or distribution of drugs and alcohol.
System officials said the policy only reinforces existing policies.
– Approved $95,675 for a new gym roof at Erwin Middle School. The bid was placed by Weathergard. Miller said the bid for the project was “absolutely fantastic.”
– Approved $719,267 for an addition to the cafeteria at West Rowan Middle School. The addition will increase the cafeteria’s size by 3,936 square feet and also include a 581-square-foot commons area.
Currently, the cafeteria totals only 2,476 square feet.
The work, which is to be completed by the end of July, is being done by LaFave’s Construction Co. of Landis.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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