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Spaulding Family Resource Center seeks to leave school site

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The Spaulding Family Resource Center, located in the former C.C. Spaulding School site on Pine Street since the 1990s, is seeking the town of Spring Hope’s approval for a new home.

Town Manager Jae Kim said Monday that the nonprofit center has applied for a conditional-use permit to move into the former day care center at the intersection of Nash and Walnut streets across from First Baptist Church.

The town’s Board of Commissioners, which earlier this year also became the Board of Adjustment, last week scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. July 22 to hear the request at Town Hall. Though the property is within the central business district, the town’s zoning ordinance requires a conditional-use permit for community centers.

Kim said the center is seeking a new home because of the high cost of its lease at the school, whose almost 30 acres was purchased last year by S&J Holdings from the school system for $173,911.

The Spaulding Center, which at its inception occupied much more of the former Spaulding School than it does now, was allowed to remain at Spaulding for a year in June 2018 when Global Achievers Charter School took over the property.

But the charter school lost its license and closed last fall when it failed to meet its required attendance and other goals, leaving the Spaulding Center behind in an otherwise empty school property.

Kim said programs the center currently offers can fit within the smaller day care property if town commissioners approve the switch in their role as the adjustment board. They will have to determine whether the property meets any zoning requirements for a community center.

“They said there’s plenty of room there to do everything they’re doing now,” he said.

The move was originated by the Spaulding Center directors, Kim said, and the town is not financially involved, although he did not rule out the possibility the center will ask for the town’s financial assistance at another time. Commissioners last year told the center’s director they might provide some kind of assistance if it stayed within Spring Hope.

What will happen to the Spaulding School property has not been announced. Before it lost a year-long bidding war to S&J Holdings, the large and loyal C.C. Spaulding Alumni Association had attempted to purchase the property to maintain its existence and identity, but the buildings’ condition and the cost of renovating them has since made the school property problematic, Kim noted.

Spaulding was originally founded as a black high school. When the school system was integrated, the facility became a middle school and elementary school before it was closed.