Joint Planning Committee reviews progress on school system’s capital projects

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

At the Joint Planning Committee meeting Tuesday, County Commissioner Craig Pierce said he wouldn’t be opposed to approving more funds for the Rowan-Salisbury’s capital projects, if it meant building a brand new facility for Knox Middle School.
The purpose of the committee is to facilitate communication between county commissioners and the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education about the school system’s capital projects. The committee is made up of representatives from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.
In addition to building instead of renovating, Pierce suggested building the new building near Isenberg Elementary School rather than Overton.
Rowan-Salisbury Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann said his first meeting with SFL+A Architects is later this week. SFL+A is the architectural company chosen by the school board to draw up plans for the changes to Knox and for the consolidated elementary school in the western part of the county.
Vann said the architects would give him their vision for the facility and run some budget numbers. Then, the school board would take a look at those ideas and numbers and make decisions based off that.
Although Vann said he felt all options should be looked into, he didn’t think a new school building could be built for the $15 million allotted. Instead, he thought costs would probably be closer to $20 million.
School board member L.A. Overcash asked if the project ended up being more expensive than $15 million, what were the chances of securing the extra funding.
Pierce responded that the chances were fine – “as long as we can justify it.”
“I certainly hope we don’t get bogged down with our original memorandum of understanding for $40.5 million,” he said. “I want it to be what we need.”
“I don’t want you to think that there’s no room for moving,” he said, adding that the commissioners didn’t have enough information to set an accurate dollar amount when the memorandum of understanding was made, and that they simply did what they felt they must in order to avoid litigation.
Vann said drawings for the central office building should be “100 percent the first week in September,” and a guaranteed maximum price should be received by mid-October.
“We’re seeking as much local manpower as we can get,” he said, adding that the cutoff for contractors to submit their request for qualification is Aug. 14.
School board members asked if the commissioners’ recent tension with the Local Government Commission would affect its ability to receive funding on the original schedule discussed.
Pierce said it wouldn’t be an issue getting a loan, he just didn’t know how good the interest rate would be.
Pierce said he had concerns about the district’s land swap deal with the Wallace family, which provided the property on the 500-block of N. Main St. in Salisbury for the district’s central office building.
“I’m a little bit concerned with how that went down,” he said.
Pierce said with the possibility of a new bridge going in, he feels the district could have gotten better money for the district’s current administrative office property on Ellis Street if they waited and sold it to Norfolk Southern.
“We weren’t told that,” Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said.
Moody said the school system didn’t think they would have been able to build the building they had drawn up on that property because it was three stories high.
As they wrapped the meeting up, Moody told the committee that while she didn’t have any numbers or specific projects yet, the district had serious concerns for South Rowan High School.
The committee’s next meeting will be Sept. 9 at 4 p.m.