STATE ROAD — The costs associated with moving the administration offices of the Mount Airy City Schools could top $1.6 million.
“I sure hope we will do something for the (Surry) County Schools before we do this,” said Commissioner Larry Johnson after seeing a cost estimate to renovate the former Pike Building on Riverside Drive for use by city school administration.
“I would hope we wouldn’t put a building for administration before a county school project.”
On Friday, at the annual planning retreat for the Surry County Board of Commissioners, elected officials first laid eyes on a cost estimate to renovate the building for use as the district’s central office. That office is now on Rawley Avenue, and former school officials have complained the space is inadequate.
In June of 2015, as commissioners considered a $175,000 offer from a private company to purchase the 22,500 square feet building, which once housed behavioral health services, Commissioner Eddie Harris asked the board to consider utilizing the space for use by the school district instead of selling it.
“Is this a done deal?” asked Commissioner Van Tucker, as he looked at the estimate.
Commissioner Larry Phillips said there was never any agreement set in stone. However, the city school district is expecting to have the building handed over to it for use as a new central office.
County Manager Chris Knopf noted the project is at the top of the city district’s priority list.
Commissioner Buck Golding also told fellow board members once the offices are moved, the county can recoup some funds expended by selling the Rawley Avenue property.
He also noted all work didn’t necessarily need to be completed immediately. The project could be split into phases.
The most costly items included in the $1,654,044 cost estimate are $350,000 for electrical work, $300,000 for heating and air conditioning systems, $100,000 for fire protection sprinklers, $119,000 for drywall, acoustical ceilings and insulation, $204,500 for thermal and moisture protection and $190,675 for site work.
County Manager Chris Knopf noted the estimate included no funds for contingencies.
Normally, a project is funded with a contingency fund of 10 percent of the overall estimated cost of the project.
In a letter included in the agenda packets of commissioners, the architecture company the schools hired to prepare the estimate also notes there may be additional fees for obtaining a zoning variance if needed, permitting fees and civil engineer drawings.
Commissioners questioned the figures included in the estimate, noting terms such as “thermal and moisture protection” were broad and relatively undefined. They would like additional information regarding the plans.
Johnson voiced his concerns regarding the priorities of the district once again prior to the board moving into other business.
“I think the county would be better served to take care of the needs of students before Mount Airy’s administration,” said Johnson. “I’d put education over this.”
Knopf said the county board would simply allot money, and the school board would have to set its own priorities.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.