Haywood County’s school system is rushing to move into new headquarters by the end of December, though the process may be delayed as officials have been rushing to find an architect to design the project, then find a contractor to do the work.
The move to Annex II building in Waynesville is going rapidly because school administrative staff must vacate their current building by then, The Mountaineer reports.
School maintenance workers have started demolishing interior walls on the upper floor. There is little more than a half a year to complete regulatory requirements, retain an architect and advertise for construction bids.
“Because of the timeline, we moved ahead in good faith with demolition,” associate superintendent of support services Trevor Putnam told the newspaper.
“The Waynesville permit office has been fantastic to work with and told us which walls we could remove. It will end up being a huge savings doing the demolition in-house.”
The school board’s current office building in what had been an old hospital has been sold and will be converted into low-income apartments.
When the old hospital sale agreement was finally announced last year, school leaders presented a plan to consolidate school offices and services currently spread across five different facilities in the county into a centralized education hub.
“The $12.6 million price tag, along with the recent economic downturn, and an empty building right across the street, led to the county offering school board officials the deed to Annex II along with $750,000 to remodel the facility,” the Mountaineer reported. “That offer came on May 4. A week and a half later, the school board officially accepted the offer . . .
Once a newly-selected architect prepares plans that will ultimately be used by contractors to submit bids, the plans must be approved by the board of education and the planning division of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
‘We will make every attempt to meet the December deadline, but it’s a pretty lengthy process,” ,” Putnam was quoted as saying.
Putnam said a longer construction period could reduce overtime costs if the contractor didn’t have to race against the clock to complete the job, so one alternative during the bidding process will be a February completion date.
In a 1980 agreement, the board of education deeded property behind the former jail and courthouse to the county in return for receiving suitable office space for the school’s central office. The agreement contained language stating that in the event the space proved to be unsuitable, the county would provide alternate space within the Waynesville town limits.
”All on the board of education and the county commission side knew that lease needed to be resolved because the building we are currently in is not in great shape,” said superintendent Bill Nolte. “We’ve worked hard the last couple years to talk about all our needs. Annex II and $750,000 adequately satisfied the contract requirements.”
Initially, it was questionable whether $750,000 would be enough to cover the Annex II remodeling cost, but as preliminary estimates arrived, it appears the amount will tight but adequate, Nolte said.
“We are going to work as quickly as we can within the rules and regulations to meet the December date,” Nolte was quoted as saying “We are pleased to have had long, collaborative discussions that got us here. This is not our big plan, but we will work on the big plan later.”