The Mount Airy Board of Education heard an update on plans for a new central office on Tuesday night.
Dr. Kim Morrison, school superintendent, showed the board members renderings of what the renovated Pike building on Riverside Drive could look like.
Morrison said one plan already had been done, but after speaking with county officials, a second design was created with a raised roof over the planned 21’ x 61’ meeting room.
The arched roof looks similar to the student commons area at Mount Airy High School, noted board member Phil Thacker.
The raised roof would allow some natural light into the room, wouldn’t it, asked vice chairman Tim Matthews.
Yes, said Morrison.
That extra ceiling space could make the meeting room more appealing aesthetically with all the purposes the room could be used for, believed Matthews. The idea behind this space is that it’s not just for the school board, but for community use, he added.
When Morrison met with the county commissioners in April during budget discussions, a total project estimate of $1.82 million came out for the whole project.
For that kind of price tag, Morrison said she felt like the space should be utilized as much as possible.
“We want it to be a hub of the community,” she told the school board Tuesday.
If a nonprofit group would like to use the meeting room or one of the smaller office spaces in the back, group leaders can reach out to the schools to see if the space is available to be reserved, she suggested.
Board member Kate Appler is also Guardian ad Litem district administrator for the county. She liked the idea of having a place for nonprofits to use, saying, “I use space in the Pilot Center all the time. … We don’t have anything like that in the city.”
Once the meeting room is set up, the office will have the ability to stream video live to the internet, said Morrison. If city officials or some other group wants to broadcast over the web, this would be a way to do that.
The adult high school diploma program for Surry Community College could have a class in the back area, said Morrison. That area will house the most electronic equipment and will have the most security.
One outside door will lead directly into the meeting room, and locked doors will keep guests from wandering freely through the office and storage areas, the board discussed previously.
Staff likely will park around the right side of the building and enter through the side entrance. Any guest coming in will have to be buzzed through by the receptionist at the front desk to access either the back classroom spaces or human resources or the superintendent/finance department area, Morrison described.
There has been discussion about putting a panic button at the front desk in case there is any trouble for Becky Parries (receptionist and assistant for human resources), said Morrison.
Opening the side door straight to the outside would allow outside weather to come straight in, so contractors bidding on the job could provide options for a door system such as a two-door entryway or revolving door, the superintendent pointed out.
The district is ready to put the roof work out to bid, she said.
At the Oct. 16 county meeting, commissioners approved a short-term lease for the site to run into March. The city schools will use its existing funds to pay for the roof, then get reimbursed for that expense once the county lines up financing for the entire renovation project, according to Sarah Bowen, county finance officer. Then a new long-term lease will be signed.
Morrison said she expects to come back with a bid recommendation for the board before the Christmas break. Then the roof work can get started in the new year.
No one can control the weather, but contractors think they can have the roof done by March so that work can then move to the interior, she said. Then the renovation can be done by the summer break.
Board member Mike Marion asked how extensive the work would be to gut the building. Morrison said the contractor would demolish everything except for the wall that separates the front and back sections of the building.
If the alternate bid for the raised roof is reasonable, asked Matthews, how much time would that add to the timetable?
Morrison said she wasn’t sure. Jason Dorsett, chief operations officer, said the people who have been in discussions with the district has been been consistent in saying they think school officials can be ready to move in this summer.
Board member Ben Cooke said any type of change to the roof would add a lot to the renovation cost. This type of raised-arch roof could easily push the bill up another $100,000, he guessed.
If additional money were to go into changing the structure of the building, Cooke said he would like to see some extra windows added to the walls.
Windows could allow in some natural light and provide a view for office workers looking out.
• While on the topic of the new central office, Morrison said that since the people who will handle technical assistance and repairs will be located in the building, it would make sense to eventually move the server from the high school to the office so folks have immediate access if a problem arises.
• Morrison also said that consultant Bill Powell has suggested not only having battery backup power for electronics at the office, but also having a fuel-powered generator on site that could power the main office in an emergency.
The generator could keep the superintendent’s office and public information officer’s office functional to serve as the center of activity for the district.
Morrison said this is an important point to Powell because he has lived through two situations like this where Walkertown and Reynolds had their school offices serve as a hub during a crisis.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.