School board moves forward with western elementary site

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — Not much stands in the way of the construction of the new western elementary school.

Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann gave an update on the chosen site, a roughly 41 acre parcel of land that includes the current grounds of Cleveland Elementary School, at the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education’s Monday business meeting. The board voted unanimously to enter into a purchase agreement for the land on Sept. 12. After entering into the agreement, Vann said, the board had 90 days to complete its due-diligence.

Pilot Environmental, Inc. finished a Phase I environmental study of the property on Oct. 14. A subsurface engineering study and wetlands delineation have also been completed, Vann told the board Monday.

“All three of those are acceptable,” he said. “There are a couple of things, but they are minor.”

One of those things was the quality of the soil on the site, which will expand and contract with moisture. Vann explained that if a hard surface was built on top of that soil, it could result in cracks in walls or foundations. But the issue is one that can be addressed relatively easily, he said, and recommended taking off the top three feet of soil and replacing it with good fill.

“We feel that we could certainly fit it within our budget,” he said.

The other issue is that of underground storage tanks. In its study, Pilot noted that an underground storage tank was removed from the property of Cleveland Elementary in 1997. The 10,000-gallon diesel storage tank was used to fuel the school’s diesel boiler system. The school has since moved to a natural gas heating system. However, the report also noted a vent behind a residence on the property that could indicate the presence of a second underground storage tank.

“So we’ll have to address that tank,” Vann said in an interview after the meeting.

However, Vann said that this was “fairly standard stuff that we find on projects like this.”

The board voted unanimously to direct Vann to take the property before the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for approval. If they green light the property, it will be brought back to the Board of Education for final approval. Vann said he hopes to present the parcel to commissioners in November.

In other business the board:

  • Approved a $1,500 bonus for principals and a $1,000 bonus for assistant principals.
  • Voted to use the fund balance to provide a merit bonus to non-certified employees who are paid out of local funds. Previously the state mandated a merit bonus to non-certified staff, but the provided $234,000 could only be applied to employees paid by state funds. Chief Financial Officer Robin Leslie estimated that providing a bonus to the approximately 131 locally paid staff would cost roughly $30,000.
  • Received an update on individual school improvement plans.
  • Received an update on low performing district schools.
  • Received an update on the system’s literacy framework.

The board will hold its next meeting on Monday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m. in the Wallace Educational Forum, 500 N. Main St. The meeting, the board’s only one in November, will be a business meeting. Public comment will be held at 6 p.m.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.