Education

Rock Hill school board decides to sell district office, build new site

The Rock Hill School District has received an offer to purchase its office building and 12-acre property for $2.7 million. The board is expected to vote on the offer Monday.
The Rock Hill School District has received an offer to purchase its office building and 12-acre property for $2.7 million. The board is expected to vote on the offer Monday.

In two divided votes, the Rock Hill school board decided Monday to sell its North Anderson Road property for $2.7 million and spend up to $6.5 million to build a new office.

The board voted 4-3 to sell the office and 12-acre grounds, with members Jim Vining, Jane Sharp and Ann Reid voting against the move. Helena Miller, Terry Hutchinson, Mildred Douglas and Walter Brown voted in favor.

In a 5-2 vote, the board decided to build a new office, setting a $6.5 million cap on the project, with Vining and Sharp opposed. Members said the $2.7 million revenue from the sale would go toward the new office.

Vining said he could not support a cap on the office project because it might end up costing more.

“I’d rather do it correctly,” Vining said. “I cannot vote for it with a limit, and it might not work out well down the road.”

Sharp said the sale and construction of a new district office would be a distraction from the primary goal of improving student progress. She said the district already has a lot of construction going on.

“I think we have so much going on right now that we are not going to be able to focus” on student progress, she said. Sharp said once the district has a strong reputation for excellence, it could focus on its office.

Board member Walter Brown said the annual cost savings from lower utilities and maintenance of a new office could be as much as $100,000, which could go toward the classroom. The current building “has quite a bit of age on it,” he said.

Board member Terry Hutchinson noted the current building has no windows and the chance to build a new office with windows “is a major positive.” He said office windows can help improve morale and productivity.

Board member Helena Miller noted that the district office building has been on the market for four years and the district might not get another offer. “We need to move ahead,” she said.

Superintendent Kelly Pew told the board in a memo that the $2.7 million offer is consistent with the asking price for the office property and an outparcel that was marketed separately. She said it also compares favorably with appraisals in 2011 and 2015.

The board has discussed building a new office on three acres of district property on Orange Street, next to the Central Child Development Center. That project would require working with the city to close Orange Street between Black and Flint streets to create space for parking, officials have said.

Other options the board discussed included acquiring office space in the Lowenstein Building at Knowledge Park or renovating a 30,000-square-foot gym at the Flexible Learning Center off Flint Street, at a cost of $3.6 million.

The offer to buy the property includes a commercial lease. The lease would allow the district to remain in the entire building for up to six months after closing at no additional cost and to remain in 60 percent of the building for up to a year after closing, with base rent waived, Pew wrote in an earlier memo to the board .

Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077

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