Critics of school office plan take complaints to commissioners
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Several local residents spoke against Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ central office proposal at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
County commissioners didn’t discuss the $7 million proposal Tuesday night. It hasn’t even been presented to the board yet, but the seven speakers wanted to make sure their concerns were heard.
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education plans to buy the building from a Charlotte developer that would build a 62,000-square-foot facility in downtown Salisbury.
“The central office building needs to be put out for competitive bid to protect taxpayers from abuse,” said John Bare. “Stop taking this legitimate need and using it as a vehicle for other purposes and goals.”
Derwood Puckett said voters should be able to say whether or not they want to spend money on a central office, because there are other needs in the school system.
Another speaker agreed.
“I am not in favor of building a school central office when Henderson, Knox, Cleveland and Woodleaf schools need to be replaced,” William Peoples said.
Catherine Reynolds said Chad Mitchell, chairman of the commissioners and a teacher at East Rowan High School, should recuse himself from voting on this and related issues.
Commissioners Jim Sides’ mother made a similar statement during public comment at the board’s Sept. 6 meeting.
“It is common knowledge that the sitting chair of the board is a paid employee of Rowan-Salisbury Schools,” Phyllis Sides said. “Therefore, to avoid any conflict of interest or even the appearance of a conflict, I ask that he remove himself anytime any matter comes before this board concerning Rowan-Salisbury-Schools.”
After that meeting, Mitchell said the county attorney has told him there is no conflict of interest, because there would have no direct financial or other gain from the decision.
He said he has voted against school proposals before and hasn’t seen any sign of retribution.
“In the absence of a conflict,” Mitchell said last week, “it’s basically my responsibility to vote.”
Also speaking at the Sept. 6 meeting was Craig Pierce, who said the county should get bids from other contractors and look at more than one proposal.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.