RSS board views Faith Academy offer, talks options in closed session

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2020

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Monday night discussed a proposal from charter school hopeful Faith Academy to purchase existing Faith Elementary property.

The letter lists $10,000 as the purchase price, but notes the proposal is “intended solely as a preliminary expression of general intentions and is to be used for discussion purposes only.” Last week, academy chair George Wilhelm told the Post the letter is intended to show the board’s interest and the charter would need some form of agreement about the sale of the property in February if it were to use the facility to begin classes next school year.

If the academy cannot secure the property in time, it could bring in mobile classroom units as a start. The charter will go before the state Board of Education in January for final approval. It was unanimously recommended for approval by the state’s Charter School Advisory Board.

Faith Elementary School and Enochville Elementary are set to close permanently at the end of the school year.

Associate Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann said he planned to bring the property back to the board at the beginning of 2021 for it to be declared surplus. That step is necessary to dispose of it. There are a few procedures based on statutes the board could then follow to dispose of the property.

Board attorney Ken Soo recommended he discuss some of the legalities involved in disposing of the property with the board in closed session.

“There are a lot of ins and outs, particularly involving charter schools,” Soo said.

The board did not take any action on the issue after returning from closed session at the end of the meeting.

In other news from the meeting:

• Associate Superintendent Kelly Withers said a committee is creating a proposal for a plan to migrate the alternative program out of Henderson Independent School.

Withers said the committee is exploring multiple possibilities for a centralized location, which could include building, renovating or leasing a space.

Board chair Kevin Jones said he would like the committee to bring back best options.

In the past, the board has generally been in agreement the program is needed in one physical location.

Board member Travis Allen said he would be interested in evaluating schools that are under capacity to see if it would be possible to house the program while keeping it separate from the regular school.

• Assistant Superintendent of Transformation Andrew Smith updated the board on the status of a $26.3 million federal grant the district was awarded in September.

Notably, the district has hired a grant administrator for the award who will move to the area from California. There will be several other hires related to the grant as well.

Board member Dean Hunter asked if the position was paid for in the grant. Smith confirmed it was.

• The board named Withers interim superintendent in case incoming Superintendent Tony Watlington cannot start immediately after Moody retires on Dec. 31.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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