RSS Board of Education will get update on K-8 project, consider 2022-2023 calendar

Published 4:45 pm Saturday, February 5, 2022

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education on Monday is expected to receive an update on the district’s K-8 project to combine the populations of Knox Middle School and Overton Elementary.

The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. on Monday at Wallace Educational Forum on North Main Street in Salisbury. The meeting can be attended in person or viewed at

The new facility is planned to be built in the space between Knox and Overton. The latest floor plan concepts include three floors. The school would host more than 800 students, with a capacity of 1,000 that’s expandable to 1,200.

Chief Operations Officer Anthony Vann on Monday will speak to the board about elevated material costs for the project. The presentation includes a slide showing material costs have stabilized somewhat, but they are still higher than early 2020 when the project was first approved.

The presentation includes possibilities for cost savings to bring the project cost estimate down from almost $70 million back in line with the $55 million initial estimate, including reducing or removing amenities such as sidewalks and one or all tennis courts.

There is also a list of small square footage cut options and classroom combinations that could help save on the project. However, there is a possibility of securing millions more in funding. The district qualifies to apply for the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund.

Historically, the grants were only available for the state’s most economically distressed counties classified as tier one counties by the N.C. Department of Commerce. A few years ago the grants were opened up to less distressed counties that fall in tier 2. However, the grants have still favored tier 1 counties.

Rowan was reclassified from tier 2 to tier 1 in 2020, but it climbed back up to tier 2 in 2021. The program offers up to $30 million for elementary schools and $40 million for middle schools with a match from the district.

Applications are due in March, with award announcements in April.

In other agenda items:

• The board will consider three options for the 2022-2023 school year’s academic calendar. All of the three would begin classes on Aug. 10 and end classes on May 24.

They also include two-week breaks in December, a full week for spring break, e-learning on election days, more work days at the beginning of the year and e-learning days because of required professional training from the state.

Option one places graduation on May 27, 2023, and the final 10-month staff workday on May 30.

The second option places graduation on May 26, with an Aug. 2 first workday and a final workday of May 26 for 10-month staff.

The last option places graduation on May 25 with the same work days as the second option.

• Chief Student Services Officer April Kuhn will present proposed revisions to the student code of conduct.

Kuhn will talk to the board about days of instruction lost due to out-of-school suspension at each high school and propose the district look into updating two points in the code of conduct. The first is aggressive behavior. Violations can result in suspension and Kuhn will discuss the district’s description as broad and the consequence range being wide.

The second will be vaping, noting consequences are inconsistent in secondary schools.

• The district will consider granting Duke Energy an easement near Mt. Ulla Elementary School. The easement is part of Duke’s upgrades to power lines and will add one pole to the corner of the school property.

• Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Smith will present a pair of updates to school board policies. The policies include adding requirements for a mental health training program and updating the remote meeting participation policy to comply with new state law.

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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