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Rowan commissioners reject central office funding

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners has nixed plans to fund the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s proposed central office.

At a meeting Monday afternoon, commissioners voted 3-2 against funding the project that would consolidate the school central office in a 62,000-square-foot site on South Main Street.

The vote jeopardizes more than a year of planning for the project. It also erased a $6 million commitment the board vowed last spring.

Following a few brief agenda items and a public comment period, Commissioner Jon Barber moved to reaffirm the board’s commitment to the funding. Commissioner Chad Mitchell seconded the motion.

But Chairman Jim Sides, and commissioners Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey voted down the proposal.

Barber told the board he still supported last year’s decision to fund $6 million in unrestricted funds for the project.

“We shouldn’t micromanage our school system’s decisions. That’s not our role,” Barber said. “The school board is held accountable by the voters. The administrators are held accountable by the school board. The teachers and staff are held accountable by the administrators. It is not our place to meddle.”

But the majority felt differently, citing continued contamination findings at the South Main Street site where a service station once stood.

Vice-Chairman Craig Pierce said he could not vote for the proposal because of site contamination.

“For us to even consider this funding, I feel like it’s a dereliction of duty for the commissioners to even entertain this until we have a site that’s acceptable and buildable,” he said. “We don’t know when that’s going to be. Until we have that, there’s no way I can support this funding.”

In October, state officials found three underground tanks that surprised city officials.

Two months later, four more tanks were found, along with soil contamination.

Check Tuesday’s Post for more information.

  Follow Rowan Politics with Nathan Hardin on Twitter @rowanpol

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