Burgin in line to design office

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
EAST SPENCER — A local architect could be designing the long-awaited central office building for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Gene Miller, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations, plans to recommended Ramsay Burgin Smith Architecture, Inc. for the job during the Board of Education meeting Monday.
Architect Bill Burgin has already done some preliminary work on the project. He talked to staff several years ago about their space needs and took a survey of how much space was already being used.
Miller said he’s recommending Burgin for the job because the district has been satisfied with projects he’s designed in that past. That includes a recent cafeteria addition at West Rowan Middle School, an addition to the Salisbury High School gym and plans for both Hanford Dole Elementary and Southeast Middle School.
Miller said the school system can solicit architects, but a number of questions about their financial stability and experience would have to be answered.
“When you ask all those questions, the answers for Ramsay Burgin Smith are all positive,” he said. “I would think that no matter how many people you interview, you would want to pick the one that is best for your particular project, and I think in this case, Mr. Burgin is the best.”
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners approved a letter of commitment to borrow $6 million for a central office earlier this month. The district plans to pay back that money through the portion of sales tax revenues it receives for capital projects each year.
The school board had originally requested commissioners’ approval to construct a three-story, 62,000-square-foot building downtown. The price tag of that building would come in at about $8 million before interest.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said Friday during the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Friday Forum that with $6 million, the district will not immediately be able to combine all five of its administrative offices.
Grissom said the district’s plan is to build the facility and leave part of it unfinished. That means the school system’s exceptional children’s staff will likely move into the current Ellis Street office.
“We will go from five (buildings) to two, which is great,” Grissom said. “We will also get them out of a building that is falling down.
“Those were two major issues, so it’s progress.”
Miller said he envisions adding on to the building in phases as funding becomes available
“We’ll design it so that it can be added on to in the future,” he said.
Several school board members have suggested getting donations to build the 62,000-square-foot building the district needs now, but Miller said he’s not sure they will go into a “fundraising mode.” Miller said the district has yet to receive any contributions for the project.
“I’m hoping someone will step forward to help us,” he said.
During Monday’s school board members will also:
• Hear about the details of the Bio-Moto Challenge middle school students are taking part in. The challenge is part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative;
• Receive a recommendation from Transportation Director Judy Burris asking the district to limit activity bus travel to in-state only; and
• Hear about the impact school choice and academics have had on the school system’s enrollment
The school board meeting will begin at 5 p.m. Monday at the Long Street Administrative Office, 110 S. Long St. in East Spencer.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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