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RSS board will stay with planned site for new elementary school

Editor’s note: This article corrects errors in an earlier version published Wednesday.

SALISBURY — A majority of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted Monday not to consider a town of Cleveland offer for a parcel of land for the planned consolidated western elementary school.

The board is currently under contract, but has not closed, on a property on the corner of U.S. 801 and Godbey Road. Board Chairman Josh Wagner said at the time, the parcel was the only real, viable option.

At the board’s first meeting in the Wallace Educational Forum, Steve Stroud, mayor pro tem of Cleveland, said the town would offer some property at little or no cost to the school system. Placing the school in Cleveland means the facility would have access to existing water and sewer lines – an approximately $1.1 million expense at the current site. A Cleveland facility would also be close to fire and EMS stations.

Wagner said he’d been unaware of the Cleveland property until recently, and felt it was an option the board should discuss. Wagner said not following through on the contract to buy the U.S. 801 property would result in the loss of $10,000 in earnest money. But Cleveland offered to give their parcel to the school system and to demolish existing structures, something that would save the system about $325,000, Wagner said.

The board was split between considering the new property or continuing with the Godbey Road site. Wagner recommended waiting a month to look at the properties adjacent to the Cleveland parcel and to ensure that nothing was missed in the cost calculation process.

Other board members raised concerns that moving to Cleveland would be unfair to Woodleaf. Woodleaf is not a municipality, and wouldn’t be able to offer water or sewer like Cleveland had. Board member Jean Kennedy said she felt the new school should be built on a neutral site. Travis Allen said he was concerned that the drive to school would be too long should the facility be built in Cleveland.

A motion to gather information on the Cleveland property failed in a 4-3 vote. Allen, Wagner and Hunter voted to consider the proposal, while Kennedy, Cox, Hughes and Dr. Richard Miller voted against.

Wagner said that the Cleveland property is now a dead issue. The Godbey Road property is currently undergoing testing, and if everything proceeds well, Wagner said the board may close on it in a month.

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