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Central office progressing, but not without setbacks

The Rowan-Salisbury School System is finalizing architectural drawings for its central services office, but it looks like the district will be hit with some unexpected challenges and expenses in the process.
The building will be built in the 500 block of North Main Street in Salisbury, but was originally slated to be located at 329 S. Main St. The district had plans drawn up for a building before county commissioners rejected the initial site.
The search for a new location ensued, and commissioners approved the North Main Street property.
The property was too expensive, but Lee and Mona Lisa Wallace purchased the seven parcels on North Main Street in late June and swapped the property for the school system’s current executive office on Ellis Street. They are allowing the district to stay in the Ellis Street building rent-free until the new central services building is built.
“In order to prevent a complete re-design of the central services building, the existing South Main Street plans are being utilized,” Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann said in an email to the Post.
There were two sets of plans to choose from. One was for a 48,000 square foot building, and the other was for a 62,000 square foot building.
When the building was going on the South Main Street property, district officials had decided to build the larger building.
But with the new site and revised budget, the decision was made to revise the smaller building.
“Based on our current budget, we can’t build the larger one,” Vann said during the Board of Education’s work session Monday.
In addition to financial concerns, space on the new property is “extremely tight.”
The current drawings have the building’s back wall standing only six feet away from the chimney of neighboring business, Shulenburger Surveying.
The building will also be uncomfortably close to Duke Energy power lines — within inches of OSHA standards with the scaffolding that will go up.
In order to make the building work on the North Main Street property, contractors will have to use different footings for the building and make the wall closest to Shulenburger Surveying a firewall with no windows. In addition, Duke Energy will have to move their power lines.
These remedies are not without cost, however.
“Our design and construction teams are working on a cost associated with power lines, footings, and the required firewall work,” Vann said.
Although they do not have those numbers yet, he said there would have been similar issues at the South Main Street property as well.
Board members discussed the possibility of moving the building further back on the property, as well as purchasing the property Shulenburger Surveying is built on.
“We’d be a whole lot better off if we had that property,” Vann told the board.
Pushing the building back could lead to extra leveling expenses on the land.
‘You’re going to pay it either way,’ he said, adding that it was up to the board members to decide where they wanted to spend their money.
The board decided to talk about the options in more depth at their next meeting when they have a better feel for the costs of each option.
“We are looking at all options to best utilize the existing plans on the current site,” Vann said in an email.
Although district leaders chose to build the smaller building, they say there will still be enough room for everyone in the building.
Cabinet members added their input on space utilization and efficiency, and the floor plans were modified to meet the current and projected needs of the office building, Vann said.
“It’s just a smarter, leaner building than we’ve had before,” he said, adding the district plans to use space better than before by sharing conference rooms and adding more collaborative space.
The building will be three stories high, and the ground floor will have a boardroom, which can be split into multiple meeting rooms. It will also house an interactive lobby and the finance and human relations departments, as well as a server room and a hospitality room.
The second floor will house the superintendent’s office, and offices for the three assistant superintendents. The English as a Second Language and curriculum departments will also be on the second floor.
A meeting room for up to 150 people, child nutrition, the extraordinary children department, two conference rooms and a residential kitchen will be on the third floor.
The maintenance department will remain in the Carter building, as will some of the district’s technology staff.
The only group that was initially supposed to be included in the central services office that is not included in the final plans for the building is a small group that does testing for extraordinary children.
“It’s not because we don’t have space in this building, it’s because they don’t want to be in the building,” said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody.
The group does testing with 3-year-olds who often have extreme behavior problems.
Moody said the demographic of parents and students they serve typically aren’t comfortable in more formal settings with their children.
She said they were considering using some unused space in a school building to relocate the program.
“At the North Main site, we have conducted an appraisal, site survey, soil borings to determine footing type and a phase one environmental site assessment,” Vann said in his email.
He told the board he expects for the architectural and engineering drawings to be completely finished by Sept. 3, and for a guaranteed maximum price to be set by the construction manager at risk by Oct. 10.
Once that guaranteed maximum price is set, the district can submit plans to the Local Government Commission for approval.
The planning stages of any project coupled with reviews and approvals from all agencies, Vann said. “LGC approvals are the most uncertain to schedule.”
“After the approvals and funding are in place, the actual brick and mortar items are more predictable and generally more conducive to control,” he added.
In addition to the central services office, the Rowan-Salisbury School System is working on plans to improve Knox Middle School and build a consolidated elementary school in the western part of the county.
The board approved SFL+A Architects to draw up plans for updates and improvements for Knox Middle School and the proposed elementary school in the western part of the county.
Vann said he was impressed with how the company tries to work with school districts to design buildings with an emphasis on curriculum. SFL+A recently completed a school that produces more energy than it consumes.
The other three firms interviewed were MBAJ Architecture, Ramsay Burgin Smith Architects and Mosley Architects.

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