Buyers sought for two school properties

By Mary Katherine Murphy - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Education will begin taking bids this week from parties interested in purchasing the former Washington Park and Pate-Gardner school properties.

The school system has offered both properties to the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, which voted last week to decline. Advertisements will go out this week soliciting sealed bids for both buildings.

Both properties have been appraised: Washington Park at $90,000 and Pate-Gardner, which is located in Gibson, at $45,000. The board will begin viewing the bids submitted on March 14.

“Given the minimum bid amounts, what happens if we don’t get any sealed bids at that amount?” asked board member Darrel Gibson.

“Per the wording of the notice and the general statues, the board can just reject all bids and start over,” said board attorney Nick Sojka.

Also on Monday, the board heard from representatives of Pinnacle Architecture of Matthews and SfL+a Architects of Fayetteville. Each group provided a preliminary cost estimate for building a new elementary school and expanding the Laurel Hill and Sycamore Lane elementary schools.

Pinnacle estimated the total cost of those projects at $36.9 million while SfL+a quoted a price tag just over $40 million.

If the school board ultimately decides to pursue that project, which would involve closing or repurposing the Covington Street, South Scotland, North Laurinburg, and I.E. Johnson elementary schools, several financing options will be available.

Options presented Monday included securing bonds through either the county commissioners or public referendum, USDA Rural Improvement Program loans, or a public-private partnership in which the school system could have a new school built to its specifications and then effectively lease it from the developer.

In other business, human resources superintendent Cory Satterfield updated the board on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s new definition of a low performing school: any school with a D or F performance grade unless it exceeds expected growth.

By that definition, Carver Middle School, Wagram Elementary, and I.E. Johnson Elementary are low-performing schools, which brings more stringent teacher evaluation methods.

“It will, across the state, make it very hard to entice/recruit teachers to go work in low-performing schools because of the additional observations and the fact that they could be placed on these individualized plans,” said Superintendent Ron Hargrave. “There’s a feeling of, well I’m going over to help this school but I’m getting punished.”

In other business, the board applauded Pate-Gardner Elementary School 2014-2015 teacher of the year Bridget Ward, who is now teaching at Sycamore Lane Elementary School.

“The beauty of being a teacher is every day is a new opportunity to be with the kids and inspire them,” said Ward, herself a 2008 graduate of Scotland High School. “Teaching the content is great and standing on tables is great, and doing all those things is wonderful, but when they leave knowing they can be anything that they want to become regardless of their situation or their circumstances or anything that life has dealt them, that is why you become a teacher.”

The board also recognized Scotland High School students to be accepted to participate in All-District Band: Gregory Regling, Taylor Edgerly, Carrie Dean, Sam Poage, John Zane, Jacob Walters, and Terrence McLean.

School system public information officer Meredith Bounds also announced Scotland County Schools’ inclusion by the College Board on the Gaston Caperton Honor Roll, a list of 130 districts across the United States that create opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students.

“They independently sought us out to recognize us for our underserved communities, our number of students that have taken AP courses, sat for AP exams, performed well on AP exams, and performed exceptionally well on SATs.”

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

By Mary Katherine Murphy

[email protected]

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