There are a number of items that came out of the Bibb County Board of Education retreat held at the Warner Robins Museum of Aviation. One item that has been up for discussion before is moving the district’s central office off Mulberry Street to another location.
In a growing real estate market, such a move would be a no-brainer, but Bibb County was blessed and cursed during the Great Recession. While this area didn’t see large price fluctuations, properties didn’t notably appreciate in value. And with a lot of available square footage downtown, selling the building may not be the best course of action at this time.
However, the idea to get the district out of 484 Mulberry is worth consideration, even if the final decision is to lease all of the 100,000 square-foot Mulberry Street building. At one time, the Dallemand administration floated the idea of moving the Central office to the Hutchings Career Center site that is under utilized, However, Interim Superintendent Steve Smith has a more novel idea: Move Hutchings to the Promise Center space presently being renovated on Anthony Road.
The board gave Smith approval to see if any of these ideas are feasible. The first step is an appraisal of the five-story Mulberry Street location. The board is right to look at ways it can increase revenue -- even from real estate. There is no end in sight for state austerity cuts and the district has little wiggle room under the tax cap. Also, property values continue to lag, meaning less revenue for the district. The school system has several old buildings scattered around the county, but if past experience is accurate, selling them now would only attract pennies on the dollar.