Aberdeen Elementary School 09.jpg

The outdated gymnasium at Aberdeen Elementary School. 

The Moore County Board of Education is pursuing the sale of the old Aberdeen Elementary to the high bidder identified in two 10-day bid periods in July and August.

In the primary action during its 20-minute meeting on Monday, the school board voted unanimously to authorize staff to work with the board’s attorney and Pathfinder Investment Management, LLC to prepare a contract for the sale of the surplus campus.

The U.S. 1 school was replaced by the opening of the new Aberdeen Elementary off of N.C. 5, which opened to students last month.

Pathfinder, a real estate private equity firm based in Raleigh that also owns the Town and Country shopping center on U.S. 1, offered $1.5 million for the school during the first round of bidding in July. The district publicized that offer and reopened bidding for 10 days to give any other interested parties a chance to upset it, but no contesting bids came in during that period.

Now that the school board has agreed to the sale, Pathfinder will add another $40,000 to its initial $75,000 deposit. The company still has 60 days to inspect the old Aberdeen Elementary site. If it pursues the sale from that point on, that “earnest money” won’t be refunded even if the sale falls through.

Once the sale contract is signed, Pathfinder will have six months to complete the transaction. The town of Aberdeen will vet its development plan for the property.

Moore County Schools will be seeking buyers for three more surplus campuses in the coming months. Aberdeen Primary on Keyser Street will be advertised for sale this fall.

The school board will resume discussion of the current Southern Pines elementary and primary campuses in December. The new 800-student school off of Morganton Road is on track to open in January and replace both old schools.

The district is in the process of negotiating private sales to two interested parties. Moore Montessori Community School, a public charter school that opened in 2018, hopes to buy the old Southern Pines Elementary to serve its growing population.

The Southern Pines Land and Housing Trust has its sights on the old Southern Pines Primary, formerly the site of a Rosenwald school, as a cultural and entrepreneurial center serving West Southern Pines. Its July purchase offer to the district of $200,000 and other considerations contested the property’s $630,000 appraised value.

Board Chair Libby Carter concluded the meeting with the announcement that the board’s work sessions, typically held the first Monday of each month, will revert to a virtual format for “the foreseeable future.”

The board suspended traditional meetings soon after the coronavirus outbreak in March. Members conducted business by videoconference in meetings live streamed on Moore County Schools’ YouTube channel.

Board members resumed meeting in-person in August, socially distanced on the stages of the new Aberdeen Elementary and the Union Pines auditorium, but Carter said that poor attendance at the work sessions doesn’t warrant continuing that at this point.

“At last week’s work session, I also offered my thanks, and those of the board, for the incredible effort being put forth by our information technology crew,” she said.

“They have given us long hours and unlimited energy as we kicked off a double year of school offering both in-person and virtual classrooms. On top of this, in August and September we asked them to create a totally remote boardroom and to spend numerous extra hours to set up, man and take down our on-the-road meetings.”

Beginning Oct.5, work sessions will revert to a virtual format available for viewing live on YouTube.

“We will continue to hold regular board meetings at varying school locations so the meetings can be open to the public for regular comment periods,” Carter said.

The Moore County Board of Education’s next regular meeting is scheduled on Oct. 12 at Union Pines.

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