The Rock Hill school board is mulling an offer to sell the North Anderson Road district office and property and move to a new site downtown.
Board chairman Jim Vining said the board is scheduled to vote Aug. 22 on whether to accept an offer from a business to sell the office and 12-acre property, which has been listed for sale since 2012. It’s also scheduled to vote on whether to build a new office on district property, he said.
During a Monday workshop meeting, the board discussed several options, including moving the district office to the Lowenstein Building at Knowledge Park or building a new office on Orange Street, next to the Central Child Development Center.
The board did not discuss the price offered for the property during an open session Monday. Skip Tuttle, principal with the Tuttle Co., which has been marketing the property, said it has been listed for sale at $2.7 million.
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District leaders said if the board decides to sell the property, proceeds from the sale would go toward the price of a new office location.
Several board members voiced support for accepting the offer and moving the office during Monday’s workshop. But Vining opposed the move, saying the purchase price would not cover the cost of a new office location.
“It’s turned into a rush effort,” Vining said Tuesday. “And it’s clear that what we will get for the Rock Hill district office will not pay for the move somewhere else.”
Board member Jane Sharp also raised concerns.
“Our No. 1 objective is increasing student learning,” Sharp said during Monday’s meeting. “I really can’t see how this ties into that.”
Deputy Superintendent Tony Cox said the district doesn’t have enough employees to fill its one-acre building. A new office, he said, allows district employees to “gather ourselves into a smaller, more efficient space.”
Cox said the building was put on the market in 2012, when discussions began about moving the district office. Some offers have been received since then, he said, but none were sufficient for the district to seriously consider.
Cox offered five options for the board. They include:
▪ Keeping the existing 42,500-square-foot office and doing nothing, at no cost;
▪ Renovating and updating the district office, for $2.7 million, which would require temporarily moving out of the office while the work is done;
▪ Renovating a 30,000-square foot gym space at the Flexible Learning Center off Flint Street and relocating the district office there, for $3.6 million;
▪ Moving into a portion of one floor of the Lowenstein Building at the downtown Knowledge Park development, in a structured purchase; the district would own the office space after 25 years, for $4.7 million;
▪ Building a new two- or three-story school district office on about three acres the district owns on Orange Street, next to the Central Child Development Center, for $6.5 million.
The Orange Street option would require working with the city of Rock Hill to close a portion of Orange Street, between Black and Flint streets, to create enough room for both the new building and parking, Cox said.
Brian Vaughn, executive director of facilities services, told the board there is enough property at the Orange Street site to build a district office, and the street closure would create sufficient space for parking.
Vining said the Lowenstein Building at Knowledge Park would be a good location, “but the financing would be unique,” which he called “risky for the district. The financing needs to be something that is conventional.”
Board member Terry Hutchinson said the district should consider the higher maintenance costs of the existing office versus expected lower maintenance for a new office.
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077