Alamance-Burlington school board members have voted unanimously to approve a 2-year lease for an office building at 1211 South Main Street in Burlington to use as offices for about 30 employees in the Exceptional Children’s (EC) and pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) programs.
Earlier this year, ABSS officials had looked at buying or leasing several other properties – the former BB&T bank branch at 220 South Main Street in Graham; an office building at 1100 Riverbend Road in Graham; and a former daycare center at 712 North Fisher Street – to move employees in the EC and pre-K programs out of Sellars-Gunn Education Center at 612 Apple Street in Burlington.
ABSS assistant superintendent Dr. Todd Thorpe has said that Sellars-Gunn, portions of which were built in 1931, has increasingly fallen into disrepair, partly because of leaks he has previously attributed to defective roofing materials that were used in new roofs that were installed at Sellars-Gunn and four other ABSS schools during the mid-2000s.
The entire roof at Sellars-Gunn was replaced during the 2020-21 fiscal year that ended in June, ABSS finance director Jeremy Teetor confirmed for The Alamance News this summer. The roof replacement was financed with a portion of an $890,000 settlement that ABSS received from Dow Roofing Systems in the spring of 2018, as well as county capital funding, the finance director said.
The former accountants’ office on South Main Street will be used for testing and therapy for EC and pre-K students, Thorpe told school board members during their work session Tuesday afternoon.
Approximately 30 employees will move to the office building at 1211 South Main Street, while about 50 or 60 employees will remain at Sellars-Gunn, which had served as the former alternative school for ABSS until that was moved to Ray Street Academy in Graham in 2012, ABSS officials said Tuesday.
ABSS will lease the property from RFK Family Limited Partnership for $6,845 per month (or $82,140/year), Thorpe said during the work session. The upfront cost to move in also includes a $2,500 security deposit, renters’ insurance, and approximately $5,000 for computer networking and any additional furniture that may be needed. The lease term runs from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2023, based on information presented to school board members Tuesday afternoon.
Built in 1969, the 6,845-square foot office building at 1211 South Main Street previously served as the office for the Apple Bell Johnson accounting firm, which appears to have merged with Gilliam Bell Moser CPA & Advisors at 813 Chapel Hill Road in Burlington.
The property on South Main Street in Burlington sold for $450,000 in July 2020 to the RFK Family Limited Partnership, which has one general manager, Lisa Kirkpatrick of 1240 Engleman Court in Burlington, according to documents on file with Alamance County’s Register of Deeds. Alamance County tax records list the latest assessed value at $391,972.
The county’s tax records list the latest assessed value for Sellars-Gunn Education Center at $5.5 million, which includes a 69,356-square foot school building and 11.11 acres of land.
School board member Sandy Ellington-Graves this week reiterated her earlier request to do a study to compare the costs to renovate Sellars-Gunn versus the cost for moving to a new location. While she said Tuesday that she had no objection to the lease for the South Main Street property, Ellington-Graves also asked what would happen to Sellars-Gunn in the long term.
At the same time, Thorpe told school board members that he’s still evaluating other vacant commercial property where ABSS could open a welcome center and also provide office space for the ABSS Virtual School (AVS) that began its inaugural school year in August. That location could provide office space for up to 42 virtual school employees and 10 employees who are currently based at the ABSS central office in Burlington, school board members learned at a special-called meeting in July of this year.
The potential “welcome center” was described during the earlier discussion as a central location where enrollment, school transfers, and related services would be offered. ABSS officials most recently looked at renting a space that had been occupied by American Eagle Outfitters at Holly Hill Mall on Huffman Mill Road in Burlington, based on information that was presented to school board members in July.
“We’ve got leases for two different properties right now,” Thorpe said Tuesday, though he didn’t delve into the status of the negotiations for the vacant store at Holly Hill Mall.
School board member Ryan Bowden asked Thorpe to provide more information about the proposed welcome center at the school board’s next meeting in two weeks.
School board members voted 7-0 Tuesday afternoon to approve the lease for the property at 1211 South Main Street in Burlington.
Thorpe told the The Alamance News after the meeting that the 30 EC and pre-K employees should be relocated from Sellars-Gunn to the building on South Main Street within a month or two.
OTHER ABSS COVERAGE:
School board debates Covid policy: whether to mandate vaccination, require testing: https://alamancenews.com/school-board-debates-should-abss-require-covid-vaccinations-testing/
Three clusters identified at ABSS schools: https://alamancenews.com/three-abss-schools-have-cluster-of-covid-19-cases/