ST. ANTHONY ‚Äď Leasing the old Lincoln Elementary School may be an option for the Fremont County School District.
That‚Äôs the word from District Superintendent Byron Stutzman who started researching the idea following the district‚Äôs recent school board meeting.
‚ÄúThere was a businessman there last night who put a bug in my ear (about leasing), and I e-mailed our attorney. I asked her ‚ÄėWhat can we do?‚ÄĚ She said ‚ÄėIt‚Äôs funny you should ask. We just went through two of those with two other school districts.‚Äô We‚Äôll get that information. It may be another option,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll explore the option and present the school board with the information, and they can make the determination.‚ÄĚ
Should the school board opt to lease Lincoln, it wouldn‚Äôt be unreasonable for the school district to ask for 10 percent of the building‚Äôs appraised value in rent every month. Lincoln has been appraised at $262,400, meaning that 10 percent of that would be a rental income of an estimated $26,000 a year or $2,166 a month to make it worth the district‚Äôs while.
‚ÄúOne person would take it over and rent it from us where we would have a good return on our investment, so we have some value there,‚ÄĚ Stutzman said.
Stutzman has repeatedly said he would rather sell the building and use the cash to put into other school programs.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt see the point of keeping that on our books if we can‚Äôt make a decent return on the money,‚ÄĚ he said.
The school district put Lincoln Elementary School out to bid earlier this month at its appraised value. No one offered a bid, and, as a result, the district now has the option of re-bidding it out at a lower price or to auction it off.
In the meantime, the State Board of Corrections has expressed interest in the old school. With overcrowding among its prison population, the state has proposed buying the old Lincoln School and making it a part of the St. Anthony Work Camp. That camp is adjacent to the Fremont County School District office.
‚ÄúThey are really good neighbors, but people are really worried about having them in their neighborhood. I don‚Äôt see where the worry should be, but I understand not wanting that next to your house,‚ÄĚ Stutzman said in a Standard Journal article published Aug. 17.
In recent weeks, corrections officials have visited the school three separate times and say they‚Äôre still interested in the facility.
Stutzman said that in his talks with state officials on the school, they agreed to pay the fair market value on Lincoln School.
‚ÄúIt would be at least the appraised price,‚ÄĚ he said.
Stutzman noted that should the state purchase the school, it could mean a boost in St. Anthony‚Äôs economy.
‚ÄúIn the report from the warden, he figured there would be 25 to 30 new jobs and fairly decent, well-paying jobs that have benefits,‚ÄĚ he said.
Shortly after the state expressed interest in the school, St. Anthony‚Äôs Art Lab urged the school board to sell or to gift the building to the City of St. Anthony. The Art Lab offered to rent the facility for $500 a month.
Earlier this month, Art Lab officials and city residents met with the St. Anthony City Council to consider buying the school or accepting it as a gift from the school district. Yet, last week, the council declined to do so.
Powell noted numerous repairs needing to be done to the school. He pointed out concerns over asbestos tiles, an outdated heating system and restroom repairs that might cost the city as much as $50,000.
While the city is financially stable, Powell said it wouldn‚Äôt take much to change that should the city pour a chunk of change into the old school for repairs. In the article, the Mayor hoped that the Art Lab finds a way to use the old school.
Art Lab official Kara Hidalgo said she was saddened by the council‚Äôs decision.
‚ÄúWe are really hoping things change, and our local civic leaders begin to help us build a better community, with a culture and entertainment offering that will entice companies to move to St. Anthony and offer steady, well-paying jobs,‚ÄĚ she said in a press release.
In the meantime, putting the building up for bid would make it fair for anyone interested in developing the old school, Stutzman said.
‚ÄúIn our discussion I told the board, if we are going to do anything with it, to be fair to all people in the district, I think we should put it up for bid again because it allows anyone who is interested ‚ÄĒ private or public ‚ÄĒ to put a bid on the building and purchase it if they so choose,‚ÄĚ he said.
For more information on the Lincoln School call the school district at 208-624-2500.