RSS receives two bids for former Long Street offices

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education will Thursday consider the fate of its former South Long Street administrative offices. According to the board’s online agenda, it has received two offers for the East Spencer building.

The future of the Long Street property has been in question since the school system vacated the building in March, moving its offices to a brand new central office on North Main Street. When no one responded to advertisements for bids, the board in May chose to negotiate prices with potential buyers and to investigate demolition costs.

A quote from MBH Enterprises, Inc. – a demolition contractor in Rural Hall – estimates that demolition and salvage would cost approximately $180,874.

But the board received two bids for the property, which includes the offices and 6 acres. The Paul L. Dunbar Group, a nonprofit organization seeking to transform the old building into a charter school and community center, bid a nominal fee of $1.

In its formal offer, chairman of the Dunbar Group Kenneth Muhammad El, formerly Kenneth Fox, said that he met with three members of the Board of Education in December and “was told at the time that they would support such a request and we could expect to get the building.”

Board of Education Chairman Josh Wagner did not return phone calls by press time.

Muhammad El alleged that in official quorums, the board reversed its decision, bringing up talks with East Spencer for the property, and that the Dunbar group’s offer would not be accepted until it had secured funding.

At the time, the school board requested that both East Spencer and the Dunbar group provide proof of finances needed to renovate and maintain the property. Neither group responded, and the discussion was tabled.

According to Muhammad El, the group has applied for a grant or loan opportunity with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Division.

A second offer has been received from an out-of-state property management company. George Duncan of Gold Nugget Properties has offered $7,000 for the building. Reached by telephone, Duncan declined to comment.

The Richmond, Mo.-based company registered with the Missouri Secretary of State in 2005. According to a 2014 article published in the Cleburne Times-Review in Cleburne, Tx., Gold Nugget Properties purchases old school buildings across the country and then markets them to potential buyers for alternate use.

According to the article, the company has purchased buildings from York Public Schools in Nebraska and the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton school district in Minnesota. The Daily Gate City newspaper in Keokuk, Iowa reported in a 2015 article that the local school system sold an elementary school to the company for $11,001. Keokuk Superintendent Tim Hood told the paper that he investigated previous purchases in Faribault, Minn. and Wallaceton, Pa. and reported that one of the properties had been turned into a strip mall and the other into a spiritual school.

According to Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann, an upset bid process will begin should the board choose to accept either offer Thursday.

The board will meet Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Wallace Educational Forum board room.

The board will also:

  • Review a report on year two of the one to one initiative.
  • Review local budget preparations and discuss transportation funding.
  • Discuss open enrollment possibilities in Rowan-Salisbury schools.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.