City schools seeking county funds for buildings

Two jobs could cost more than $5 million

By Jeff Linville -

City school officials will appear before the Surry County Board of Commissioners to discuss two building renovations with total estimates of $5.68 million tonight.

One structure is on the high school campus, while the other is the former Pike Electric headquarters on Riverside Drive.

Dr. Kim Morrison, superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, discussed the two projects with the city Board of Education Tuesday night.

Both projects included detailed descriptions with estimates based off work with Bill Powell, who put together a county-wide school needs study four years ago.

Morrison told the school board that both projects could be done for significantly less than the estimates provided.

Two facilities in the district could use a lot of work, Morrison said. Those are the Career Technical Education (CTE) building and the old junior high next to the high school. In the past the school board has hesitated at investing money into the old junior high, she noted.

The CTE building was built in 1969 and needs a new roof, HVAC work and new lighting. Other work could include an open canopy and sidewalk to keep kids out of the rain, a second set of stairs and possibly an elevator to be handicap-accessible.

Renovations of the rooms were estimated at $155 per square foot for 14,114 square feet, which comes to nearly $2.2 million.

Much of the furnishings are decades old, too, so there is money in the budget for that and technology enhancements.

The full tally would be $3,855,804.

A couple of board members balked at the price. Ben Cooke thought the design fees ($261,000) were too high since this is a renovation and not a new construction.

Morrison said the fee was based off 8.5 percent of the total project, but could be negotiated down closer to the 6 percent used in the central office planning. That would be in the $185,000 range.

When put to a vote, all were in favor of approving the project except for Mike Marion, who felt the cost was too high.

On the Pike project, it was a year ago that consultant Randy Baker presented the school board with a rough draft of what the renovated structure could look like as a new central office.

The design included a 21×61 board meeting room and a large storage area in the back.

The building could potentially be more space than the school district needs, so Morrison has had conversations with other groups who might be interested in space.

She told the school board that the back right corner could be used for things like a distance learning lab for Surry Community College. Reeves Community Center also has shown an interest in holding meetings and training sessions in that space.

The rear area has its own outside door and bathrooms, so people wouldn’t come through the main building, she said. The doors connecting the training areas from the offices could be locked.

The school district really doesn’t have climate-controlled storage space, so the large warehouse space in the back would serve an important function, Morrison said. And there is room to put in a tech workshop so that things that need repairing can go to one central place.

Last year, the estimate for roofing repairs came in around $160,000 to $190,000. However, Morrison said that Bill Powell explained that building costs are going up and it could be $200,000 for the work now.

The estimate for the whole project was a little less than $1.82 million. Along with the roof, the biggest line items are $350,000 for electrical work, $300,000 for HVAC, and $190,000 for site work.

However, Morrison said there is some outside site work and other expenses that might be spared. There might be a way to get the whole job under $1 million, she said.

The school board approved this plan.

The county commissioners will meet at 5 p.m. today to hear education expenses. Surry Community College, Elkin City Schools and Surry County Schools are also planning to present their cases in a session which could last more than three hours.

Two jobs could cost more than $5 million

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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