About 14 Berkeley County School District employees who work in the Berkeley Educational Center will be relocated as soon as possible because of the poor condition of the building.
"When you're looking at building needs, my opinion is student needs come first, but the bottom line is, we're either going to have to tear this building down, it's going to fall down, or we will have to address it," superintendent Rodney Thompson said. "It's not very stable and really has some safety concerns."
The building, at 107 East Main St., was built in 1929 and originally served as Berkeley High School. It has issues with the flooring, wiring and lighting, said deputy superintendent Archie Franchini. It also has window air-conditioning units and the windows are rusted and peeling because of leaks, he said.
It has been labeled as the district's least seismically sound building, and recently was found to be in structurally poor condition, said district facility services director James Thomas. He said he has not found evidence that it's on any protected registries.
"The biggest problem is ... the bricks are leaving the faèade, and the big center concrete in the front is leaning back and will rock two to three inches," Thomas said. "Some kind of stabilization has got to be done there because with a large wind, it could fall inward."
Estimates are that it would take nearly $2 million to make the building safe, Thompson said. Some board members asked about preserving the faèade or tearing down the building completely, but board member Doug Cooper said the important thing is to get the employees out as soon as possible.
"We've basically been put on notice," he said. "What bugs me is we've got people in there. I don't like that. The rest of this, we can work out as we go forward."
The building has about 17,000 square feet of space, not all of which is used. It houses the office of chief academic officer Karen Whitley, the fine arts department, gifted and talented department and the transcript office. There also is a waiting area and a room for student testing.
Several other buildings are on the site: an unused Child Nutrition building; the Berkeley Alternative School, which was renovated in 2003; recently renovated adult education classrooms; the current Child Nutrition Food Storage building; special education offices; and a science storage center.
Thompson said it may be possible to move the offices to the former child nutrition building.
"Finding the space is one thing, but upgrading the space to accommodate the offices is going to be a burden," Thompson said.