Schools’ Staff Report On Catholic School Could Be Answer To Budget Prayers
The Guilford County Schools Facilities Department has determined that the former Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Catholic School on Montlieu Avenue in High Point would be a perfect fit for the Academy at High Point Central.
The Facilities Department, however, estimates that it would cost from $4.3 to $7 million to renovate the building, which the Guilford County Board of Education has an option to buy for $1.75 million.
The school was operated by the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church until August 2013. It is in a prime location on the southwest corner of the intersection of Montlieu Avenue and North Centennial Street, diagonally across the street from High Point University.
The $1.75 million price at which the school board has optioned the school is a bargain no matter whose appraisal you believe. The church had it appraised at $2.175 million in September 2012 and Guilford County Schools had it appraised at $2.15 million in February 2013.
The school board is expected to consider the Facilities Department due diligence report on the IHM school at its Feb. 11 meeting.
One thing that jumps out from the pages of the due diligence report is that the IHM school, which has a capacity of 250 students, according to the church, or 230 students, according to the Facilities Department, is a good fit, size-wise, for the Academy at Central. The IHM school property also has two buildings that housed a rectory and convent that could be used for offices.
The IHM school also has a gymnasium, which the Academy at Central now lacks, and the former church sanctuary, which would make a large auditorium.
The Academy at Central is a small high school that is now housed in the Tomlinson building, formerly Tomlinson Elementary School, on the High Point Central High School campus. Central High School supporters have asked the school board to move the academy to free up classrooms for Central, where students are sitting on the floor and on radiators.
The Academy at Central has eight classrooms, one science lab, one room for business and office education, two health sciences classrooms and a computer lab. According to the Facilities Department, the 35,445-square-foot IHM school, on four-acres, would have room for exactly the same number of classrooms, plus the auditorium, gym and extra space in the two other buildings.
The IHM school also has 77 parking spaces.
If the school board does buy the IHM school property, it will be different from other land purchases for Guilford County Schools. Usually, the school board has to hunt for land, and determine that it is suitable for a school. This time, the church suggested the purchase, and there was already a school in operation on the property.
Guilford County Schools Executive Director of Facilities Julius Monk said that, as a result, the Facilities Department won’t make a recommendation on whether or not the school board should buy the school.
“We just gave them the update of the conditions of the facility, and when it’s been worked on,” Monk said. “They’ll have the discussion on whether to buy it or not.”
The Facilities Department estimates that the IHM school could be renovated to the minimum requirements of the Academy at Central and brought up to code for $4.3 million. The Facilities Department also includes in the due diligence report an estimate that a “comprehensive renovation” of the school would cost $7 million – although, strictly speaking, such a renovation goes beyond due diligence on the existing property.
The Facilities Department estimates that, including renovations, the IHM school would cost the school board $6.05 million for the basic version and $8.75 million for the gussied-up version.
Those prices are probably padded. Ever since Northern High School went $10 million over budget in 2005 and the school board had to pay $37 million, rather than $27 million, for the school, Guilford County Schools has acted as if it is determined to never have another cost overrun again. Some school construction projects have gone over budget, but not for lack of padding cost estimates.
The Facilities Department, however, acknowledged that the IHM school cost estimates are per-square-foot ballpark figures not based on construction documents, and figured in only 2.5 percent inflation, rather than the 7.5 percent inflation added to the projects in the school board’s current $457 million building program. The Facilities Department also calculated the renovation costs as to include a year’s worth of inflation, meaning administrators think the renovation could be done quickly.
The one potential red flag in the due diligence report is the environmental report, which includes the fact that IHM Church removed two underground fuel storage tanks and found some fuel-contaminated soil.
The report goes on at some length about that factor. The gist of it is that the church removed 253 tons of contaminated soil, and that small amounts of soil containing slightly above the state-allowed level of fuel could not be reached.
That wouldn’t affect the school, as it has city water, unless the school system decided to dig up the area for later construction – in which case it would have to get permission from Guilford County Environmental Health.
Another factor is that High Point University has asked the High Point City Council to close Montlieu Avenue between North College Drive and North Centennial Street – the block east of the IHM school.
Monk, however, said that, even if the High Point City Council closes that block of Montlieu Avenue, it would not prevent Guilford County Schools from using the IHM School.
“We still have roads around each side of the property,” Monk said. “It still has Centennial as a major thoroughfare, and it has the other side of Montlieu to get to the school.”
BY Paul C. Clark
February 6, 2014
Looking for an Article?
©Copyright 2014 Snap Publications | 406 N. Eugene Street, Greensboro NC 27401 | P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro NC 27429 | (336) 763-4170