School board waits for budget response

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 3, 2014

SALISBURY — Anticipating some word from county commissioners on budget negotiations, the chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education has called a meeting of his board next Thursday, Jan. 9.
Chairman Dr. Richard Miller called the meeting to “review any or no decision that the county commissioners make at their meeting on Monday,” he said Thursday.
The school board and commissioners have been communicating through their attorneys regarding budget mediation since June. Failed mediation could lead to a lawsuit against the county.
One point of contention is a central office for Rowan-Salisbury Schools staff. Since commissioners rejected the site the school board chose at 329 S. Main St., school officials widened their search. Miller confirmed that one location under consideration is up the street at 504 N. Main St., site of the recently closed J & M Flower Shop.
Because the bodies have been unable to agree on the central office, a budget has yet to be approved for the 2013-2014 school year — now nearly half over.
The school board also says Knox Middle School needs a major facelift or a new facility, and the board has proposed consolidating Woodleaf and Cleveland elementary schools into a new West Rowan Elementary School.
Commissioners have offered to finance $22 million for the elementary school and $6 million for the central office, as long as it’s not at 329 N. Main St. If the Board of Education chooses the former Social Services building property on West Innes Street for the central office, commissioners have offered to pay additional engineering and architectural costs.
“Right now we’re trying to look at anything other than 329,” Miller said.
The board held an hour and 40 minute closed session with their mediation attorney Richard Schwartz during their last called meeting on Dec. 30, but had nothing to report at the close of the session.
When asked if he thought they were getting closer to a resolution, Miller said, “We think so, but we’ll know on Monday.”
The school board will meet at 8 a.m. Thursday at the school system administrative offices, 314 N. Ellis St.
Commissioners are scheduled to meet 3 p.m. Monday at the Rowan County Administration Building, 130 W. Innes St.