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RSS board discusses budget, timeline for western elementary

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY– The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education debated a timeline for the construction of a new, consolidated western elementary school at its Monday business meeting.

The facility, set to be built at the corner of N.C. Highway 801 and Godbey Road, will merge Cleveland and Woodleaf elementaries.

The project was initially set for a 14- to 16-month construction period, but at an earlier meeting the board asked to see costs for a 12-month timeline. Barnhill Contracting Co. gave an estimate of a $21.2 million for a 12-month schedule — $1 million more than the $20.2 million estimated cost for a longer construction period. Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann said he won’t know the full cost of construction until bids have been received

“This is just a best guess at this point,” Vann said.

An accelerated schedule would finish the facility by January 2018. Board member Chuck Hughes asked if there would be any savings if the school is built on an accelerated schedule. System officials have estimated that the district could save $500,000 for each school closed.

But Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody, and Vann, said they didn’t think it would even out. Vann said that the tighter the deadline, the more costs go up. Moody added that the cost savings are calculated for the full year – moving in January or March would not allow savings to accrue.

“I think it’s safe to say there’s no way we’d come close to a million dollars worth of savings in a two month period of time,” she said.

Vann said he thought it would be “an advantage” if the schools were shuttered and the students moved over the summer.

The board could expect “boots on the ground” in January 2017, Vann said, with moving in beginning at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

During policy readings the board spent some time arguing whether or not it should allow disposable razors on school grounds. In an earlier policy, they were prohibited for students, but in a policy reading of weapons and explosives, board Chairman Josh Wagner objected to the fact that the policy applied to teachers and chaperones, as well. The board lawyer suggested that electric razors could be added, but Wagner objected.

“It seems kind of absurd that an adult has to go out and buy an electric razor specifically to shave on a school trip. Adults are, they’re OK, responsible enough to take care of these kids when they’re out of the country or overnight, but we can’t trust them with a plastic disposable razor,” he said.

Board member Travis Allen also requested that the policy be allowed to include pepper spray, as long as it was kept in a locked vehicle. The board will revisit the policy at its May work session.

In other business the board:

• Voted to accept a resolution for the sale of the Cottage Street Kiser school building

• Heard an update from the new teacher recruiter, Scotty Robinson. Since the position was created at the beginning of the year, three new teachers have been hired from 12 job fairs, and nine more candidates have interviews.

• Approved Vann’s recommendation to hire REI Engineers as a roofing consultant.

• Heard an update on an energy performance savings contract, which has just finished phase one. The board made a first quarterly payment for the contract – which began over two years ago – of nearly $73,000. The contract has a guaranteed first year savings of $304,227. In that time, contractors have upgraded lighting at 14 district schools, retrofitted over 16,000 fixtures, improved water conservation and upgraded system controls.

• Voted in closed session to hire William Brown as Assistant Principal for West Rowan Middle School.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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