HENDERSON — VCS will share its plans with the Vance County Board of Commissioners on Monday evening for the Vance County Schools Center for Innovation, which will be housed in the former Henderson Middle School.
No action is required from the commissioners because the former middle school is owned by the school system, County Manager Jordan McMillen said. “And so this is really just [Superintendent] Dr. [Tony] Jackson coming and helping inform our board of what their plans — the school’s plans — are going forward for it,” McMillen said. “The schools did reach out to us and they, I think they may have declared it surplus, that would be a question for them if they officially did that, but I feel like they did at one point, which requires them to come to the county and ask us if we will take it on. But I do remember them coming to us and we said no, we’re putting $4.5 million dollars into Eaton-Johnson. It would be a stretch for us to take on both of those schools.”
Vance school board members declared the Henderson Middle surplus during their Oct. 8 2018, meeting.
McMillen said the county declined the option to purchase the former Henderson Middle, and since that time, the school system has owned it.
“We did have some conversations, we were trying to see if we could get some activity going, for some sort of private redevelopment, at the middle school, Henderson Middle School,” McMillen said. “We were not able to get a company to commit to doing anything out there but certainly we want it to be re-used, from the county standpoint, even if the school is in there using it, that’s better than being vacant.”
The former Henderson Middle School building was in “very good shape” when the school system’s two middle schools consolidated, Jackson said in an email. “We have maintained the building over the last three years,” Jackson said. “Per policy, we offered it to the county and they determined they had no need for it. We marketed the property and received little to no interest, so instead of allowing it to fall into disrepair, we are using the space to meet district needs.”
The Center for Innovation, Jackson said, is a project focused on consolidating several current programs operating in the school system into a single location.
The facility, according to Jackson, will supply space for:
STEM Early High School — supplying a permanent home for the STEM School. STEM is currently occupying space at Vance County High School and serves 350 students.
Vance Virtual Village Academy — office space and classroom space for testing and face-to-face meetings. V3A is currently serving more than 200 students.
Vance County Professional Practice Center — space for district professional development and training.
Wayne Adcock Community Auditorium — the auditorium will be used for VCS’ district fine arts programs “and available to the community.”
Advance Academy High School — currently located at the Charles Street location.
Vance County Empowerment Academy — currently located at the Charles Street location.
Vance County Evening Academy — currently located at the Charles Street location.
District TV Recording Studio — a “new resource” that is being fully funded by an anonymous gift to the school system.
Technology Assistance Center — currently located at the Charles Street location.
The cost of reopening the building is about $200,000, Jackson said. The bulk of that, Jackson explained, is to replace the boiler in the main building and what he referred to as “cosmetic upgrades” to different areas of the building. “The recording studio is being funded fully by an anonymous gift made to the Vance County Schools last summer to support our transition to remote learning,” Jackson said.
At this time, VCS is not requesting any funding for the project from the county commissioners, Jackson said. VCS has included the work on this project in VCS’ current capital improvement budget.