Bladen County Board of Education weighs pros and cons of selling Paul R. Brown building

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County Schools may retain ownership of the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy campus.

The Board of Education is aware of the academy’s desire to purchase the property.

“They are currently under a lease of $1,500 a month,” Superintendent Robert Taylor told the board at the August meeting. “We are on a month-to-month lease with them.”

Since the closure of the alternative school Extended Hope in 2011, the district has maintained ownership of the campus. Since 2013-14, the district has leased the building month-to-month to the academy.

Bladen County Schools has not used the building in five years, according to Taylor.

“Do you think we’ll ever use it again?” board member Gary Rhoda inquired of Taylor.

“I have plans for that building, but if the charter school gets in there, we’ll never get back in that building is what I told you, and that’s where we are now,” Taylor responded.

If the district retains ownership, a hefty bill is expected in the near future. Four heating and air conditioning systems are nearing the end of their lives, and replacing them would cost nearly $12,000 each.

Rhoda asked about the operating costs.

“This year, I know it will be $35,000,” Taylor said. “I don’t recall any major stuff we’ve done, so it’s generally small, incidental repairs.”

“How much did we spend last year?” pressed board member Tim Benton. “What I’m getting at is, if it didn’t cost anything, and we don’t anticipate it costing anything, but we make $1,500 a month off of it, that’s about $18,000 a year. Why would we want to go from spending nothing and making $18,000 to making nothing? I’m just trying to keep some common sense.”

Board member Dennis Edwards suggested giving the community the first option if the board agreed to sell, and Taylor reminded board members different criteria would be in place for purchase by an alumni association and purchase by the charter school.

Board attorney Gary Grady weighed in on the issue.

“If it’s the alumni association, generally you have to offer it to the county first and receive fair market value,” he said. “I know that it’s easier for the charter school.”

After voicing his confidence that Paul R. Brown would be around for a while, the superintendent said, “I don’t know what happens — if the charter school has the building and closes — if it would revert back to previous ownership … there’s a lot of exploratory stuff we have to do.”

Grady also suggested, given the lease is five years old, looking at it again to determine if the terms need changing.

The board agreed to discuss the matter at a Facilities Committee meeting, do more research, and discuss it again at the September board meeting.

Bladen County Board of Education discusses future of Paul R. Brown building

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.