Editorial: It's time for decision
Seeking the perfect site at the perfect time is what got Rowan County in its current predicament regarding the Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ administrative offices. We’re still trying to consolidate offices more than 20 years after the county and city school systems merged.
This has gone on long enough. This is the year to make a decision and move on. Here’s a timeline from the past four years:
• South Main, January 2008: City and school officials discuss building a consolidated school office and city conference center for $16.8 million.
• Old Winn Dixie, March 2008: School officials consider a former supermarket on Jake Alexander Boulevard that would require an addition. High Rock Community Church moves into the building instead.
• More sites, January-February 2009: Sites on Old Concord Road, Ellis Street and Statesville Boulevard are added to the list. School officials favor downtown.
• Delay, March 2009: The governor’s move to take lottery and school capital building funds prompts Superintendent Judy Grissom to stop the siting process.
• Old DSS building, January-March 2010: With the Department of Social Services moving into a new $6 million building, commissioners discuss the former DSS building for a central office. But it wasn’t big enough for DSS, and it’s not big enough for a consolidated central office.
• Cornerstone Church, November 2010: After buying property near China Grove, Cornerstone offers its Webb Road property for sale. Commissioners give the idea a cool reception, and Grissom says it may take a public-private partnership to get a new central office.
• South Main Street, July 2011: Downtown Salisbury Inc. brings in developer Barwick & Associates of Charlotte with plans to build a central office for about $8 million in the 300 block of South Main. The school system could acquire it through lease-purchase. Commissioners are skeptical.
• More sites, January 2012: The Cornerstone property is back on the table, thanks to inquiries from Commissioners Jim Sides and Ford. Chairman Chad Mitchell adds school-owned property next to Isenberg Elementary School to the list, and wants more information on the Ellis Street site.
This could go on forever. The school board has the legal authority to choose the site. Commissioners’ role is supposed to be limited to funding, but some commissioners have mounted their own site search, delaying the project. He who has the gold rules. But at some point the claim of good stewardship turns into stubbornness, especially when the school board has chosen a site and identified funding. There’s one thing everyone agrees on — now’s the time to make a decision.