The Richmond County Board of Education is planning to auction off a pair of properties and solicit sealed bids on four others as it looks to slim down its holdings.
Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. George Norris outlined Tuesday the recommendations he’ll make to the school board in May to sell five properties the system no longer needs, after the last of them was cleared by the county for the school system to dispose of last week.
He plans to ask board members to auction off a pair of properties, one 25-acre tract on County Home Road and the Roberdel School property. In addition, he’ll ask the board to entertain sealed bids on the Great Falls School and Grant House properties in West Rockingham and the Central Office Annex in Hamlet.
In addition, another school property, the Early Childhood Center, will revert to the ownership of the North Carolina Department of Transportation in May.
“We hope to use the money we make to offset some non-recurring capital improvement projects we’d like to complete, and this will help us to not have to dip into our capital outlay budget to fund them,” Norris explained Tuesday. “Things like putting lights on ball fields, chillers in buildings for the air conditioning units, paving and other projects that are one-time type deals.”
The estimated value of the Great Falls School and land is $210,000, while the Central Annex Office is valued at around $140,000 and the Roberdel Children’s Center property is estimated at $50,000.
The Grant House was sold at public auction last year, but the deal fell through in the process of closing.
Norris said the two most highly valued of the properties both have potential as commercial properties, while the Roberdel Children’s Center, and possibly the 25-acre wooded tract off of County Home Road would most likely be split into parcels and sold off.
About eight months ago, RCS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Beck outlined $1 million in savings the school system could generate by divesting itself of surplus properties. At that time, the school system put its maintenance facility and central office annex on the market for a private buyer.
“When you add all of this up - and it’s true some of it is cost avoidance rather than cash in your hand - but when you add all of this up this could save about a million dollars,” Beck told board members then.
The plan to downsize its holdings portfolio began for the county several years ago, with its schools realignment plan, but the sales of these properties coming to fruition now is especially important due to the budget shortfall at the General Assembly and the potential impact it could mean for public schools.
In Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget recommendations, public schools would be hit for about 7.5 percent of their budgets, while General Assembly Republicans are expected to demand even deeper cuts in public education.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.