School board poised to sell Jefferson High SchoolAn offer accepted at Monday night’s District 206 School Board meeting may have some people smiling.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
An offer accepted at Monday night’s District 206 School Board meeting may have some people smiling.
Jefferson High School is in the process of being sold.
After a closed session to discuss the merits of two offers, the board unanimously approved a purchase agreement for the JHS property from Brent and Sally Smith of Alexandria.
“I’m pleased to say that their offer is for $2 million and $100,000 in earnest money,” said Board Chair Dean Anderson.
The sale of JHS is the most recent hurdle the board is clearing in the process of putting a referendum before voters in the fall to build a new high school in Alexandria.
The board had discussed the sale with three adjacent property owners – Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC), Douglas County Hospital and Knute Nelson.
ATCC had expressed an intention to make an offer, but an agreement couldn’t be reached in such a short period of time. The looming fall referendum date also prevented the hospital from finalizing the purchase of the property at this time.
The board had to seek out other possible buyers with the help of a local realtor. This resulted in two offers – one from an LLC and one from the Smiths, long-time Alexandria residents and both graduates of JHS.
During the closed session, the board opted to accept the Smiths’ offer, as they expressed a desire to keep the property available for a future sale to the hospital or ATCC, while at the same time reducing the cost of a proposed new high school to taxpayers.
“Sally and I have long felt there was a powerful link between building a new high school and the unshackling of our landlocked college and hospital,” said Brent Smith. “When it looked like the timing wasn’t right we became concerned. We did what we did to help ensure that this synergistic advantage wasn’t lost. We hope that given three years’ time to be able to plan and organize, that those entities will end up with the property. That could really be a powerful thing for our community.”
The board is pleased with the amount offered by the Smiths, as the land on which the high school sits is valued at $1.8 million. According to Anderson, none of the potential buyers were interested in the building.
“It is quite clear to us having three, or essentially five, individuals express the position that the building is probably a liability, that it is of no value at all,” he said.
The Smiths’ offer to purchase the property is contingent upon voters passing the referendum this fall.
“If the referendum does not pass, this all goes away,” Anderson said.
According to a press release from the school district, “conveyance of the Jefferson property is contingent upon the successful passage of the Phase II bond referendum and the construction schedule, as the school will remain in use until a new high school is completed.”
On behalf of the school board, Anderson expressed his gratitude to the Smiths for their purchase agreement.
“I want to personally say thank you, thank you, thank you,” he concluded. “This is a tremendously generous offer. It’s quite remarkable and we are fortunate to have you be able to help out for the public good.
“I’ll smile through the rest of the meeting now.”
THE REST OF THE MEETING
• The preliminary 2011-2012 school budget was approved, with many “unknowns” due to the uncertainty of the Legislature. The board also approved borrowing a maximum of $5.9 million until payment from the state is received (see related story in this issue).
• Jim Weiler from RA Morton gave an update on the progress of the energy improvement projects at Lincoln Elementary School and Discovery Middle School. Both are progressing on schedule.
• Bids were approved for carpet replacement at Voyager Elementary School – $90,853 from Cullen’s Home Center; and for carpet and stair tread replacement at Discovery Middle School – $121,222 from Commercial Flooring Services.
• First reading of policies was approved, including 11 revisions on current policies and two new policies. The revisions consist of language changes and new definitions for key terminology. In the “Tobacco-free environment policy,” an addition was made to ban e-cigarettes and not solicit business from companies that directly manufacture or are identified with tobacco products. In the “Student Attendance Policy,” the definition of excused absences was expanded for those students whose parents are deployed.
• Price for student meals will increase by 10 cents. The new prices are $2.10 for grades kindergarten to 6; $2.35 for grades 7 to 9; $2.50 for grades 10 to 12; and $3.50 for adult lunch. Prices have not been raised for three years.
• Recognition and thanks were given to Carol Gaffaney, who is retiring from her position as administrative assistant to the superintendent for School District 206. This was her last board meeting.