Lawrence school board approves sale of former alternative high school for $1.2M; former East Heights building going up for sale
photo by: Douglas County
The Lawrence school district has finalized the sale of one former school building and approved plans to put another school property up for sale.
As part of its meeting Monday, the Lawrence school board voted unanimously as part of its consent agenda to approve the sale of the former alternative high school building and surrounding property at 2600 W. 25th St. The board approved the sale for $1.2 million to the highest bidder, local nonprofit Tenants to Homeowners.
The district received four bids on the property, which is 8.78 acres and adjacent to Holcom Park. By law, proceeds from the sale must go to the district’s capital outlay fund, which can only be used for building or capital expenses. The district’s recent budget challenges — which have led to the closing or repurposing of four schools in the past few years — have been in the district’s general operating fund.
The former alternative high school building is currently being used for storage and has not housed an academic program for seven years, according to a previous district news release regarding the sale. The building was constructed in 1978 and is bordered on two sides by open fields that have been used for sports practices over the years. The building was used for the former Lawrence Alternative High School from 1982-2004. In more recent years, it was used for the Community Transition Program (C-Tran) Community Connections Center and the high school culinary program. All those programs are now operated in different buildings.
The board did not further discuss the sale, as it was approved as part of its consent agenda. Tenants to Homeowners is an affordable housing program that holds land in trust in perpetuity and provides affordable rentals or homes for purchase to qualifying tenants or buyers. The other bidders were the Johnson Group ($465,000), Stephens Real Estate ($412,000) and Adam Williams ($1.043 million). The property was appraised at $1.35 million, according to the district news release.
The board also voted as part of its consent agenda to sell the former East Heights Elementary school building, 1430 Haskell Ave. The district has been using the East Heights building to house its Community Transition (C-Tran) program, which provides workplace and independent living skills training and special education services for people ages 18 to 21. Next school year, the C-Tran program will move into Pinckney Elementary school, which the school board voted to close this spring. The district will issue a request for proposals and review bids at a later date. Like the sale of the former alternative school, the sale proceeds will go to the district’s capital outlay fund.
In other business, the school board:
•Voted unanimously as part of its consent agenda to approve an additional $27,500 to the consulting contract for RSP & Associates, bringing the total amount paid to RSP to $147,500. The district previously approved a $120,000 contract for RSP to conduct an enrollment study and facilitate a committee to discuss budget cuts. The additional cost is for work completed outside of the scope of the contract, specifically two additional budget committee meetings and five meetings of another committee that considered boundary changes related to two school closures, according to a district memo.
•Received an update on the effort to refinance the district’s 2013 and 2014 general obligation bonds. The board previously voted to only go forward with the refinance if the savings were at least $2.5 million. The refinancing would not provide savings to the district’s general operating funds, but could be passed on to district taxpayers. David Arteberry, with the investment banking company Stifel, told the board that the bids received did not quite meet the interest rate the district would have needed to see that level of savings. Arteberry said interest rates had been going up in recent days, but he thought concerns regarding the U.S. debt limit were driving that. He suggested that the board consider a resolution to allow the board president to authorize a sale once the interest rates fall. The board will consider the resolution at an upcoming meeting.