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School board faces decisions about Knox, consolidated elementary school

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education has a lot of things to think about regarding Knox Middle and the proposed consolidated elementary school in the western part of the county after a presentation from SFL+a architects in its work session Monday evening.
Robbie Ferris, the president of SFL+a, and Tom Hughes, the project’s principal, presented different project delivery options, construction timelines and construction options. They also discussed the next steps for the school board.
“Our intent tonight was to start a conversation,” said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody.
She added that since the meeting was a work session, the board should avoid taking any votes until its regular meeting scheduled for Sept. 22.
“We can do your projects within the budget,” Ferris told the board.
Ferris explained that an analysis of an existing Knox Middle School building yielded a score of four out of 18 possible points. Buildings scoring 13 or fewer points on the Department of Public Instruction’s evaluation do not have to undergo a cost analysis before deciding to destroy the building.
Although the building scored poorly, the property scored highly.
Renovating the existing building would cost the school system $17,408,197, or $12.30 per square foot per year through the expected duration of the building’s life.
Building a new building would cost less – $17,100,000, and only $5.41 per square foot per year.
SFL+a made three proposals for the new Knox building.
The first option would be 76,000 square feet and would fall under the board’s current budget. It would not meet the state Department of Public Instruction’s recommendations
This option would be the “bare school” and would have “no bells and whistles,” according to Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann.
The second option would meet the state’s recommendations at 94,811 square feet and $21,464,181.
Option three simply adds an auditorium to option two, for a total of 102,343 square feet at $23,794,394.
The second two options are not currently in the board’s budget.
SFL+a proposed a 75,000 square foot elementary school for a total of $16,571,400. The proposed design would be slightly below the Department of Public Instruction’s recommendations.
Using a traditional delivery method, SFL+a estimates the district will pay $11,994,759 in inflation costs from 2015 until 2017 factoring 6 percent for construction inflation and .5 percent of interest rate inflation each year.
If the school system were to lease the property through SFL+a, however, a 4 percent interest rate would be assessed on the debt over two years, for a total of $2,800,000. Leasing would save the district $9,194,795.
SFL+a estimates the project could be completed by August 2016 if the district leased, but a traditional method would add an additional would add an additional year in construction and bidding time.
Ferris and Hughes plan to attend the Joint Planning Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon to explain the two delivery methods to county commissioners.
Ferris said SFL+a needs to know how big the board plans to build Knox as soon as possible, followed by material and system selections. The board must also select a property to build the elementary school.

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