Dobson elementary bids surprise officials

First Posted: 3/18/2009

DOBSON After estimating it would take $12 million to build the new Dobson elementary school, officials were stunned when construction bids came in at $7.4 million.
Dr. Ashley Hinson, superintendent of Surry County Schools, approached the Surry County Board of Commissioners Monday night to discuss three major priorities.
There are three items I would like to discuss with you. First is the Central District elementary school. We took bids on that project, and the result is that we had several bidders who came in way under budget. We feel really good about the quality of the bidder, Hinson said.
He said the bid estimates came in last Thursday and the school board has not yet approved the bidder. He said he was not asking the board to award the money Monday night, he just wanted to let board members know that he was pleased with the amount.
The $7.4 million estimate to build the school will cost about $105 to $106 per square feet. Officials with the school board said the state average for schools in North Carolina is about $156 per square feet.
That is absolutely outstanding, said Chairman Craig Hunter. Congratulations. We are ecstatic to see the numbers come in this much under budget. Lets go. Lets build.
A motion to approve $8 million for both the land and the school passed unanimously from the county commissioners.
The second item Hinson addressed was the need for approval to purchase the Hardy property for the site of Pilot Mountain Middle School.
We would like to get that project out to bid, I think we all agree thats where we all agree, that with the competitiveness of contractors right now, we need to go ahead and move on this, Hinson said.
Vice Chairman Paul Johnson made a motion to purchase the land. The second came from Commissioner Jim Harrell Jr. The board unanimously voted to proceed with bids. The release will be in mid-April.
I think we need to do it while its hot, Johnson said.
The third request from Hinson was for the purchase of the Reece building in Dobson, which has been eyed by the school system for a few months.
We hope to be able to move our technology to this building. This will also provide space for personal development, the superintendent said. It will also provide storage for bulk food purchases.
Commissioners asked Hinson why he needed to move the computers to the building.
Hinson explained that the space where the computers are being housed and worked on now is outdated and too small to efficiently work on the computers that serve all of the Surry County School System.
Weve got to do something. This property is very inexpensive. This warehouse meets many needs, Hinson said.
He asked the board if it would be able to spend $475,000 to buy the building outright, and for another $25,000 to upgrade the HVAC.
Hunter told Hinson that he needed to be thinking about the security of the building, perhaps adding a fence. Hinson said an alarm system was already in place on the building.
Commissioners agreed that at 32,000 square feet, the building would be a good deal at $15 a square foot.
This is a real bargain, Hinson said.
Hunter suggested that the school board spend $3,000 to $4,000 a month to lease the building with the option to buy.
I think something like that would be very prudent, said Harrell. It would be financially prudent to take the lease-to-buy agreement.
Johnson made a motion to allow the board of education to go back to negotiate a lease-to-own contract.
I would hate to lose the deal. I think it is a good opportunity, said Tim Dockery, former school board member and principal for The Crown Companies, LLC. Dockery is working with the school board to secure the Reece property.
The key is that we need to occupy it, Hunter said.
Let me see what I can work out with him, we do want to pursue obtaining this building, Dockery said.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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