Downtown central office plans include multi-use space

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The proposed downtown central office for the Rowan-Salisbury School System could include a 3,600-square-foot meeting room and 700-square-foot test kitchen.
Both are spaces Gene Miller, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations, said the Long Street Administrative Office already has. The only difference is the size.
The current meeting room is about 2,430 square feet and the test kitchen is nearly 580 square feet.
“We asked Bill Burgin to take a look at what we have and figure out how much space we would need to adequately serve us now and in the future,” Miller said. “This building will be built to take care of our needs for the future because we know once we build this building we’re probably looking at never building another central office building in the foreseeable future, at least not for the next 60 to 80 years.”
Burgin, an architect with Ramsay, Burgin, Smith Architects, surveyed the buildings and got feedback from staff in 2007. He recently used that data to create a draft of what the floor plan for the proposed downtown office might look like.
“This is nothing but a rough draft,” Miller said. “We asked him how we could fit what we needed into the building.”
The 3,600-square-foot meeting room on the first floor, would not only serve as a place for the school board to conduct business, it would also be utilized by school system staff on a daily basis.
Burgin designed it to be partitioned off into three sections to allow for multiple use at once. It would hold a total of between 300 and 350 people.
“There’s nothing magical about it,” Miller said. “Rather than having one large conference room, we’ll have three in one.”
Miller said right now the board meeting room at Long Street is occupied about 95 percent of the time with training, meetings and conferences.
Rumors that the first floor will act as a convention center were also put to rest by Miller this week.
“There are no plans for a convention center,” he said. “Three hundred people in a room does not make a convention.”
The 700-square-foot test kitchen will be used by the child nutrition departments to experiment with new recipes before taking them to the schools.
“We just need to try out recipes to be sure they work before we take them into the school and cook thousands of dollars worth,” Miller said. “We’re not going to open up and make lunches, it’s not going to be a commercial establishment.
“It’s basically like a kitchen you would have in your house.”
The district’s assistant superintendents would have private 320-square-foot offices, while directors’ office would come in at 240-square-feet. The majority of support staff would work out of 8- by 10-feet cubicles.
“Everybody thinks we’re going to build a private office for everybody,” Miller said. “Most people will have a cubicle with a filing cabinet, desk and computer chair.”
Miller said about 160 district employees will be housed in the 62,000 square-foot facility.
The following departments would move from five different locations into the consolidated building: operations, curriculum, administrative, athletic, finance, assessment and accountability, exceptional children, human resources, school improvement, Title I, academically/intellectually gifted and ESOL (English as a Second Language).
Too big?
Rowan County Commissioner Jim Sides has criticized the size of the proposed downtown building.
“I don’t understand why the schools need 387 square feet per person to fit 160, and 40 of those people are not even in the office most of time — they’re just there sporadically,” he said during the Jan. 3 Board of Commissioners meeting. “I don’t think you need a 62,000-square-foot building.”
Sides said the Rowan County Department of Social Services building was originally proposed to be between 65,000 and 70,000 square feet for $11 million, but the county pared it down to 45,000 square feet for $6 million.
Miller said the central office building could be scaled down a bit, but that would likely create issues later.
“We’re just trying to be foresightful in this to build for future growth,” he said. “This school system is not growing right now, but at some point in time it will grow again.
“The economy will get better and we will grow and the next thing you know we’re going to be looking to rent space again.”
Miller said although the building will be larger than the 51,332 square feet of space the district uses for administrative offices now, it will not have any extra features.
“There is nothing that would go into that building that we don’t already have,” he said. “It would just be a safe structure with adequate space. Right now, we have so many people in cramped corners.”
During Burgin’s survey of the buildings in 2007, he estimated the district’s central office needed 60,193 square-feet.
“I don’t have any space in there that is excessive that I can tell,” he said. “Some of that can be used to grow into, but not a lot.”
Burgin said he wanted to be sure to include adequate space for everything that the district deemed important.
“This plan is based on standard practices that we see in the school systems that we work with,” he said. “What needs to be made clear is that the offices aren’t huge. There is no Taj Mahal being built here.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: ( Follow the central office discussion by using #rsscentraloffice )

Financing options
New Market Tax Credits will knock the final cost of the proposed downtown central office building from
$8.6 million to $6.9 million, but that doesn’t include interest.
If the school district enters a lease-purchase agreement with Charlotte-based developer Bryan Barwick, its total annual payments, starting in 2014 and ending in 2021, would equal nearly $9.4 million.
That’s lower than the original estimate of more than ?$9.5 million because Barwick has secured a lease rate of 3.95 percent instead of 4.5 percent. No upfront money would be required.
The school system could save operating costs in excess of $4.4 million over a 10-year span by consolidating its five administrative offices. That would eliminate additional rent and duplicated services such as utilities, Internet, cleaning and clerical.
It would also eliminate maintenance costs to the facilities.
The district anticipates having to shell out about $3.2 million in repairs and upgrades to its Long and Ellis street administrative offices within the next decade.
The district will also have access to sales tax money for capital projects after it finishes paying off bond debt in 2015-16. That will free up at least $1 million a year to put toward the new building in downtown Salisbury.
If county commissioners opt to take out a loan for the building, it could end up costing more than the lease-purchase scenario through the developer, coming in at roughly $9.5 million, if the interest rate is 3 percent.
But Rowan County Finance Director Leslie Heidrick has said the county could probably borrow the money at an interest rate lower than 3 percent, depending on the market.
Gene Miller, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations, has said the district will lose out on the $1.5 million in tax credits if it goes that route.

Central office space and future needs (in square feet)
                          Existing   Needed
Multi-purpose/board meeting room    2,437    3,600
Technology server room               215       240    
Test kitchen                   576       720
Student records storage               435       500
Staff lounge                   159       180
Conference room               314       320
AIG training room            1,152    1,200
Superintendent’s office               308       320
Assistant superintendents
Curriculum                    319       320
Operations                     348       320
Administration                     189       320

What a new building could look like

The draft of the downtown central office building prepared by architect Bill Burgin includes:
First floor
• Assistant superintendent of administration’s office, 320 square feet
• Finance director’s office, 240 square feet
• Payroll workroom, 180 square feet
• Purchase/accounts payable workroom, 180 square feet
• Facilities management storage, 800 square feet
• Human resource director’s office, 240 square feet
• File storage for finance and human resources, 660 square feet
• Shared conference room, 392 square feet
• Storage room, 240 square feet
• Meeting room in the center of the building, 3,600 square feet
• Four finance, eight human resources and four food services cubicles, 80 square feet
• Food services director’s office, 240 square feet
• Test kitchen, 700 square feet
• Food services workroom, 120 square feet
• Two insurance benefits offices, 120 square feet

Second floor
• Director of academically and intellectually gifted (AIG), 240 square feet
• AIG storage, 300 square feet
• AIG training room, 1,100 square feet
• Testing supplies room, 1,600 square feet
• Director of English as a Second Language (ESOL), 240 square feet
• ESOL parent resource center, 500 square feet
• ESOL workroom, 280 square feet
• Storage room, 170 square feet
• Director of exception children’s (EC) office, 240 square feet
• Two EC conference rooms, 150 square feet
• Two EC file storage rooms, 240 square- feet and 210 square feet
• Title I parent resource center overlooking Main Street, 500 square feet
• Title I director’s office, 240 square feet
• Title I conference room, 220 square feet
• Three ESOL and 32 EC cubicles, 80 square feet
• Assistant superintendent of operations’ office, 320 square feet
• Facilities management director’s office, 240 square feet
• Facilities manager’s office, 180 square feet
• Facilities management conference room, 180 square feet

Third floor
• Superintendent’s office overlooking Main Street, 340 square feet
• Superintendent conference room, size unknown
• Director of assessments and accountability’s office, 320 square feet
• Assessments and accountability storage, 200 square feet
• School improvement director’s office, 240 square feet
• Title I director’s office, 240 square feet
• Future conference room or storage, 792 square feet
• Break room, 210 square feet
• Storage room, 360 square feet
• Storage room, 330 square feet
• Instructional training director’s office, 180 square feet
• Instructional training lab, 1,200 square feet
• Data server, 240 square feet
• Teacher’s media center, 600 square feet
• Two information technology offices, 120 square feet
• Director of information technology’s office, 240 square feet
• Information technology instructor’s office, 180 square feet
• Media director’s office, 240 square feet
• Director of vocational and career and technical education, 240 square feet
• Shared conference room, 350 square feet
• Director of elementary education’s office, 240 square feet
• Director of student services’ office, 240 square feet
• Director of high school education’s office, 240 square feet
• Assistant superintendent of curriculum’s office, 320 square feet
• Elementary education storage, 600 square feet
• Four Title I, three school improvement, three curriculum, eight information technology and five media cubicles, 80 square feet