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Commissioners approve roofing request, property swap

by Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a 1.6 acre property swap at the site of a new western elementary school and a $6.5 million request from the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education for roofing and security needs.

Both requests were approved by the Board of Education at its Dec. 12 business meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann presented the requests to commissioners. The property swap comes from a partnership between the school system and the Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department.

The school system currently owns a parcel bordering School Street in Cleveland, adjacent to the fire department. The fire department, meanwhile, owns a parcel of land adjacent to the planned site of a new elementary school, which will be a merger of Woodleaf and Cleveland elementaries.

“It actually assists the fire department and it actually saves us a little bit of money,” Vann said.

The swap would give the fire department, which hopes to expand, direct access to School Street as well as an outlet onto Statesville Boulevard.

“Which works great for them as far as being able to get out on the secondary road with their emergency equipment,” Vann said.

Current plans for the school have its bus parking lot edging into the parcel owned by the fire department. If the swap occurs, that problem would be removed, and the school system would save money by not having to shift the plans and perform extra grading.

The school system has already closed on three parcels it purchased for the site of the consolidated school, which will be built behind the current Cleveland Elementary School.

The school system also requested $6.5 million in funding to address critical roofing needs at 13 schools and to fund security measures at several area schools.

The $6.5 million would come from a $40.5 million mediation agreement between the school system and the county that dates back to 2014. According to Leslie Heidrick, finance director and assistant county manager, the county agreed to provide $6.5 million to the school system for the construction of a central office, $6.5 million for capital needs such roofing, paving and security. The remaining $27 million has been tagged for use in building the western elementary school. Construction or renovations of Knox Middle School were also considered in the original agreement.

The school system picked its most critical roofing needs for the proposal, highlighting specific buildings at specific schools “which were our most critical,” Vann said.

While several of the projects come in under initial cost estimates, a few exceed them.

“I think that’s fairly typical,” Vann said.

The school system has already secured bids for the project, which Vann said the system hopes to begin in the spring.

Commissioner Jim Greene asked if any of the contractors were local. Vann said that several were. Vann added that this project would knock out approximately one-third of the system’s roofing needs, which he estimated at approximately $15 million.

Roofing estimates came in at approximately $5.4 million of the requested funds.

The remainder would go to installing video surveillance and secure vestibules in area schools — an initiative the school system has been working on for the past few years. Sixteen area elementary schools lack secure vestibules, and 18 lack video surveillance equipment.

The board conferred with Heidrick, who confirmed that the request was in line with the mediation agreement.

“This is not accelerated at all,” she said.

Commissioner Judy Klusman asked about interest rates. Heidrick said that, as a ballpark figure, she expected a 15-year lien with 3 to 4 percent interest.

Both requests were unanimously approved.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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