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Faith Academy raised offer because of interest in elementary property

FAITH — Faith Academy looked to its financial institution to secure more funding to bid on the Faith Elementary property after other interest emerged.

Board Chair George Wilhelm said other parties looking into purchasing the property motivated the charter school raise its bid from $100,000 to $300,000. Wilhelm didn’t mention specific parties, but said he was made aware of several others interested and returned to the school’s financial institution to request more funding.

The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education discussed the initial $100,000 in closed session during its March 8 meeting. The board later decided to move ahead with an upset bid process with the $300,000 bid at its last meeting on March 22, starting a 10-day bidding period. The upset bid process continue in rounds until there is no higher bidder.

Negotiated offer with an upset bid process is one of the options laid out for public entities to dispose of a piece of property in state statute.

“The $300,000 bid is probably high,” Wilhelm said.

If the academy does not have a decision next week, Wilhelm said, it will likely run out of time to use the facility for its first year of classes.

The academy wants to purchase the property to eventually turn it into its high school facility, but during its first year it will serve grades K-7. It will add a grade each year.

While the negotiations for the property are ongoing, the academy is already spending money to install mobile units on the property of Shiloh Reformed Church in Faith. It has an agreement with the church to install mobile classrooms to host its 500 students, but if the elementary property comes through in time it would shift gears to start classes there instead.

The student population of  Faith Academy has already outgrown the 440-student capacity at Faith Elementary and would need mobile classrooms on site there as well.

Wilhelm said the school being sold to another party could be more of a setback for the town than the academy. The school property has been part of the town’s well-known Fourth of July festivities since the 1940s. If someone else purchases the property, its availability could be an issue, he said.

“We’re going to offer them a long-term agreement when we get it,” Wilhelm said.

Faith Elementary is slated to close permanently in June as a public school run by RSS. RSS Associate Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann estimated the facility could cost about $300,000 demolish and the district has assessed about $3.4 million in capital needs at the facility.

Among those needs are paving, roof repair and efficiency upgrades.

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