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School district sells former Pope school

120518Old-Pope-Elem-1

The former O.R. Pope Elementary School building in Rocky Mount on Tuesday.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New members of the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education joined the school board Monday just in time to help unanimously approve the sale of the former O.R. Pope Elementary School.

Dean Edwards, Chris Bissette and Lank Dunton, who recently won seats on the school board representing Districts 2, 4 and 6 respectively, were sworn into office Monday by Magistrate Phillip Coates at Rocky Mount High School. School board members Reginald Silver of District 8, and LaShawnda Washington of District 9, were also sworn in for another term as they won reelection to their board seats.

At the meeting, Brian Miller, chief of staff for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, announced the final bid results for the former O.R. Pope Elementary School. The final selling price was $204,800, Miller said.

In a later interview, Rod Malone, attorney for the school district, said the buyer was Sheldon Bulluck. Malone and Miller both said they are not familiar with Bulluck’s plans for the property and Bulluck could not be reached for comment by presstime.

O.R. Pope Elementary School was built in 1940 and named after Oliver R. Pope, who was a respected principal and educator in the Rocky Mount community. After the school board’s decision in 2014 to close Pope Elementary because of the condition of the buildings and the high cost of bringing the facilities up to current codes, a commission was organized to examine possible uses for the structure. 

However, the school board voted in 2016 to reject any ideas that would require the school district to upgrade or maintain the property and decided to surplus the property instead.

State law requires that the right of first refusal to buy the property be offered to the county in which the building is located. Pope Elementary School, which is at 226 Coleman Ave. in Rocky Mount, lies within the boundaries of Edgecombe County and so was offered to that county for sale. After considering the matter for several months, Edgecombe County commissioners formally notified Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools that they did not wish to purchase the property.

Since then, the Pope property has gone through 16 bid cycles to reach the $204,800 selling price. The former Spaulding Elementary School, which was sold at surplus by the school district earlier this year, was sold after 18 bid cycles for a cost of $173,911.63.

Miller said the school board hopes to close on the Pope Elementary School property on Feb. 22, 2019.

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