Our present classroom buildings
All of our present buildings are what are called “modular buildings” or “temporary classrooms.” These buildings do not have a permanent foundation and are manufactured to suit immediate, temporary needs. When the school began, money was very scarce and the school’s balance sheet would not qualify for much of a loan, so this was all the school could afford.
We now are in the 11th year in these buildings and our dilemma is becoming apparent. The under structures of these buildings are losing their strength (the floors are starting to sag), the heating and air systems are all wearing out, and the general structural integrity is showing signs of decline. Our maintenance cost on these buildings is increasing and at some point it will not make sense to continue repairing and propping up structures not meant for long-term service.
Where do we go from here?
Knowing we could not develop a new campus on our own, a few years ago we began approaching various foundations and trusts with the story of our need. It soon became clear that while these groups do fund building construction, very few choose to fund land acquisition. So, to qualify for grants and to increase our odds of funding, the first step was to buy land.
The perfect 10 acres
Adjacent to the school’s property was 10 acres occupying the top of the hill above the new Sheriff’s complex. To access the property one turns up the road across from Ingles, drives past the credit union on the right and up to the Senior Center. A gravel road leading to the property continues up the hill behind the Senior Center. This property has access to Jenkins Branch Road on the other side of the hill, and has sewer and water access. Further, a gym could be built on the property within easy walking distance of our present classrooms.
The problem was this land was not for sale. Further, the property was tied up with multiple owners and various descendants. Not to be deterred, and while it took nearly two years, we convinced all the owners to sell, and to accept a price and creative terms, which made the deal affordable for the school. MDCS already owns the location for a new gymnasium and performance space; and ultimately, new classroom buildings.
Creative financing for a gymnasium
With land in hand (although we will be making payments for many years), the next goal is to build a gym. Folks have wanted a gym for years and the immediate uses and benefits are profound – everybody would love it. So we have been working on a USDA loan to help get this gym off the ground. These loans are very complicated and Carter Petty has a lot of time invested in getting this set up. We also have been talking with Swain county about hosting rec league basketball – this would be a lease deal where MDCS receives payment from the county. In that we can count this as income on the gym, it boosts our balance sheet so we can originate (and service) a bigger loan. With good fortune, we could possibly break ground on the new gymnasium this coming summer.
Building this gym will also help our overall effort – it will be the centerpiece of the new campus. Foundation boards like to see projects get completed, and if we can complete the gym without outside help it would show a strong commitment on our part. Hopefully, we will have money left over to add to the capital campaign seed money.
See more about our Vision for the Future.