School Board, County to consider construction of new
maintenance facility at PCHS
Questions about the future of the county’s two old middle schools were partially answered earlier this week.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Pulaski County School Board, it was learned that old Pulaski Middle School has become very much a hot property.
Speaking to the board, County Supervisors Chairman Joe Guthrie said he appreciated discussion during the meeting on handing the middle schools over to the county.
“This is certainly something the Board of Supervisors has been looking forward to and has a great interest in,” Guthrie said.
“From the county’s perspective, we have a strong interest in Pulaski Middle School at the moment,” he noted. “We have a developer waiting ready to go on that to turn it into residential units as market rate apartments. So that’s something we’re looking forward to having new families in the Town of Pulaski and Pulaski County and additional students for Pulaski County Schools. Those are certainly some goals that we all share.”
Guthrie continued that “they (developers) have some grants they want to get started working on as soon as the county is in possession of it (Pulaski Middle School).”
Guthrie said such is not the case at the moment for old Dublin Middle School.
“We don’t have a strong lead on Dublin Middle School at the moment. It is in a fabulous location. I think there could be a tremendous number of opportunities for Dublin Middle School for any number of things. Fabulous recreational facilities there, Soldier’s Field is an excellent facility. Softball fields are there. Dublin Middle may or may not end up in private hands, it could end up in the hands of a public entity,” he continued.
Guthrie stressed the county does not need Pulaski Middle School cleaned up.
“Just whatever condition it’s in, the developers are ready to take it,” he said.
Massie District Supervisor John Travis, also in attendance Tuesday evening, concurred with Guthrie’s comments.
Guthrie’s remarks preceded a presentation by Jess Shull, Director of Operations, Transportation and Maintenance for the school system.
Shull told the school board that kitchen equipment, furniture and other items left over from the move to the new Pulaski County Middle School have been auctioned off on GovDeals.com – a website where surplus public property is sold.
“We started auctions on Oct. 23 and to date have run 154 auctions,” Shull said. “We started with kitchen equipment because it is normally your best seller and most valuable items. Of the auctions, 111 were of kitchen equipment and the school nutrition department has made $27,537 to date.”
Shull said another 43 auctions consisting mostly of school furniture have yielded $1,460 in sales.
“Typically, school furniture doesn’t go for much,” he added, noting 40 or 50 student desks might sell for as little as $10.
“If we want to sell everything that’s left in the buildings, we probably have another 300 auctions to go,” Shull estimated.
He added his maintenance crews have managed to get the second floors of the two old middle schools completely clean. “We have a couple big ticket items left. We have one mobile unit left at DMS. We might get $2,000 out of it and we might not. Sometimes you’re just willing to let someone take it if they’ll just move it,” Shull said.
“We’ve got some ag equipment that sometimes sells for decent money. But mostly we’re down to school furniture – filing cabinets, desk chairs, teacher desks, student desks.”
He noted that the other schools in the county have had an opportunity to look at the furniture.
“We can sell what’s left or, as Mr. Guthrie mentioned, we can give the buildings to the county with what’s left still in them,” Shull stated.
He told the school board that after going through the process to empty the old schools, he couldn’t believe they were in use just last school year.
“I couldn’t believe we went to school in those buildings last year after being in this building (Pulaski County Middle School),” Shull stated. “Seeing those buildings and some of the furniture, I can’t believe we were in there last year.”
Shull continued that the school system would be “Looking at March” if it continues running auctions to get all the furniture out.
“That still leaves us with a couple of questions. What do we do with the stuff that doesn’t sell? Do we bring in maintenance crews and clean them out and polish the building. Doesn’t sound like that’s what the county is after. So, do we leave it and just move on,” he asked.
Shull said another question facing school officials is what to do with the Maintenance Department?
“Some people may not know, but Maintenance operates out of the basement of the main Pulaski Middle School building right now. It’s been there since we left Renfro,” Shull said.
“I don’t know which direction we’re moving. We’ve kicked around some ideas but have no direction.”
Shull outlined a couple options including moving the department to the old Tech Ed buildings – one at the back of the PMS property and the other next to DMS. He estimated such a move would cost the school system well in excess of $300,000.
“Do we spend money and try to move into the old ag shops at PMS or DMS? Or do we build a new maintenance shop,” Shull asked.
Shull noted the department currently operates out of eight individual facilities around the county, one of which – a storage facility – is rented from the Town of Dublin for $15,000 per year.
Beckie Cox (Massie District) told Shull she doesn’t want to “see us move back to a building we lease from anyone and get kicked out of it again,” in reference to the Renfro site.
Dr. Paige Cash (Robinson District) asked Shull what direction he wanted to move in.
“I want to build a 16,000 square foot building on a site at Pulaski County High School with a loading dock, a climate-controlled storage area and bays,” he said, estimating that would cost around $500,000.
Shull added that if the two Tech Ed buildings at the two middle schools are used, each would require “chunks” of the surrounding property to go with the shops. Shull said he didn’t know how that would affect marketing the two school buildings to new owners.
Plus, he said, using the old Tech Ed buildings would still require continuing to rent the storage facility from Dublin.
“I told Mr. (Tim) Hurst (School Board Chairman) instead of putting money into these old buildings around the county, put the money toward building a maintenance building at PCHS and everything would be right there on property we already own,” Shull said.
He estimated building a new facility would take around a year and a half.
“If I knew for sure the direction we’re going, we’d operate out of two old school buses for a year and half if we had to,” Shull said, only partly joking.
“We could temporarily operate out of DMS,” he added.
Cox wondered about the money that would be made by the county in selling off the schools to developers, and if it could be used to help offset the cost of the Maintenance move.
“I don’t think the county is anticipating getting much from selling them,” said School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers. “I think the value comes from getting them refurbished and back on the tax rolls.”
For his part, Hurst said he favors going with a new facility for around $500,000 as opposed to refurbishing old facilities for $300,000-$350,000 and the department still be scattered out around county.
“Why wouldn’t you do that, plus save $15,000 year for rent on the storage facility in Dublin,” he asked.
“That’s the route I would love to see us go. I know the county would love to get that school in their possession as quickly as possible. So, I would love to move forward as quickly as we can,” Hurst said.
Bill Benson (Cloyd District) agreed.
“A new building is the only way to go,” he stated.
“We either do this or do the other,” Siers said. “The question is what can the county do to help expedite the process,” suggesting a meeting between school and county officials.
“Sounds like we’re going to have to come up with about $300,000 no matter what,” Siers said. “If the county can somehow kick in the rest, we could get started on this and re-locate everyone to DMS for a year and a half.”
Guthrie agreed that meetings needed to take place soon.
“This is a high priority for the county, and we’ll prioritize it,” he added.
“To Ms. Cox’s point, the county intends that PMS would be sold for a very nominal charge and handed to a developer with a performance agreement that they would be required to turn it into what they promised they would do. Hard to say with DMS whether that will even be sold. It may remain public property,” Guthrie said.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot