FROM STAFF REPORTS

Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education members have walked the halls of the vacant Mount Mourne school and reviewed preliminary cost estimates for bringing it up to modern standards for educational facilities.

Based on their comments during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the board has reached a consensus that investing millions of dollars in the nearly 75-year-old school building would be a bad business decision and poor use of taxpayer money.

Tim Ivey, the district’s chief technology and facilities officer, provided the board with a long list of issues that would have to be remedied before the school could be used for educational purposes.

Ivey told the board the district would have to invest a minimum of $7.5 million in the school — and potentially up to $20 million more for unforeseen issues.

The minimum investment includes $2 million for heating and air conditioning, $1.5 million for a sprinkler system, $750,000 for windows, $500,000 for a new control system. The floors in the kitchen and dining area require $425,000 for repairs or replacement, and new kitchen equipment would run about $200,000.

A majority of board members, many of whom recently toured the school, said they could not support spending that kind of money on an outdated building in a bad location 

“Even if we do fix it up, how long is it going to last?” board member Doug Knight said.

“In the end, you have a school my mama went to,” Chairman Todd Carver added. “It was old when I went there.”

Board member Charles Kelly likened investing that kind of money in the school to sinking money in an old car.

“If I have a 1995 Cadillac and I put a brand-new transmission and a brand-new engine into it … and it runs like a top, I don’t know what else is going to go wrong with it and I’m still driving a 1995 Cadillac,” Kelly said.

The board will consider a resolution at its March 14 meet declaring the school surplus property. If passed, that resolution would be followed by a public sale through an upset bid process.

The district has received an offer of $6 million for the property, but board members believe the selling price could potentially be much higher. Proceeds from the sale could be used to finance capital needs throughout the district, they said.

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