LUMBERTON — Central office employees for the Public Schools of Robeson County expect to be in their new headquarters building in Lumberton by July 26.
The staff, now split between Angel Exchange in Pembroke and a building on the campus of The University of North Carolina in Pembroke, have their bags packed and are ready for the move into the former BB&T service center at 4320 Kahn Drive. The building offers 20,000 square feet of office space.
The move was to take place on July 1, when the Angel Exchange lease expired, but that optimistic forecast was delayed as contractors readied the BB&T building. The lease with Angel Exchange allows for an extension of up to three months, and the PSRC took a one-month extension.
“We walked through the building Wednesday, and we are close to finishing up all renovations,” schools Superintendent Shanita Wooten said. “Some furniture will be in next week, including desks for enclosed offices, human resources and the finance department.
“Human Resources will be the last to move out of Native Exchange due to the high volume of teachers they serve in the summer months. We will delay the finance department’s move due to monthly payroll restraints and other obligations.”
Employees already have taken personal belongings home with them, and the remaining furniture, equipment and files have been organized and labeled. Some housekeeping will take place before the keys to Angel Exchange are returned to the building’s owner.
The former BB&T building, owned by Lumberton businessman Steve Branch, offers twice the space as Angel Exchange at almost the same cost. The new rent is $11,700 per month, compared to $10,000 for Angel Exchange.
There were renovation costs. Wiring for technology cost $25,000 and contract services for new walls, paint, wiring, windows and security cost $230,000.
New furniture, to replace what was destroyed by floodwaters generated by Hurricane Matthew, cost $40,000. The new offices also are in a flood plain and were flooded by Hurricane Matthew.
The long-term plan is to build a new central office on land off N.C. 711 at Deep Branch Road that the school system bought in 2017. Funding for it will come from insurance, reimbursement funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and, possibly, from the county.
The Robeson County Board of Commissioners at one time pushed for the purchase of the Angel Exchange building, which was listed for $6 million, as a permanent site for the central office. The school board said repeatedly it was not interested because the building did not meet its needs. The county eventually dropped the effort, letting it die without further discussion.