Schools eyeing move to Riverside Drive

Last week Mount Airy Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Little confirmed the district’s interest in a county-owned property on Riverside Drive in Mount Airy. Little and Assistant Superintendent Brian Taylor told commissioners that the building, formerly known as the Pike Building, could better meet the needs of the school district.

According to the two school officials the current Mount Airy Schools central office on Rawley Avenue no longer meets the needs of the district. Taylor told commissioners that moving central office operations would allow the district to bring “everything under one roof.”

Taylor said that many central office operations such as the district’s computer server are housed at the high school. Taylor went on to add that the board room housed in the current office’s basement isn’t adequate and that the district must utilize the high school to conduct training and continuing education for employees.

Taylor also presented commissioners with a rough plan as to how the Pike Building could be renovated, detailing a larger board room, an area in which training would be conducted, more office space and storage space that Taylor said the district desperately needed.

School officials were asked if they were interested in moving central office operations to the Riverside Drive location after county commissioners received a $175,000 offer for the property, which Surry County Facilities Director Don Mitchell conveyed to commissioners at the board’s June 1 meeting.

At that meeting Commissioner Eddie Harris, after pointing to a commercial real estate market that is still recovering from a recession, asked fellow commissioners to consider turning the Pike Building over to the school district.

After conversations with school officials, commissioners chose to take the building off the market at the board’s budget workshop meeting last Thursday.

Estimates to renovate the building are not available yet. However, at the board’s June 1 meeting Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding told fellow commissioners that the cost to “gut” the building was around $65,000. According to a recent facilities study, costs associated with renovating the current Rawley Avenue office would be about $325,000.

Additionally, the Board of Commissioners approved an appropriation of $10,000 for the district to purchase a parking lot across the street from the Rawley Avenue property. Taylor told commissioners the district would pay the $10,000 down immediately and make annual payments of $2,500 over the course of the next four years for the property.

Taylor and Little both told commissioners that even though operations may move to the Pike Building, the parking lot would be necessary to sell the building to another entity. Currently the Rawley Avenue building has only four parking spaces.

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