School for sale or rent Community meeting set for public input
With the move into the new high school completed, the Eureka Springs School District is turning its attention to a residual problem: what to do with the old one.
"It hasn't been aggressively marketed," said Curtis Turner, Eureka Springs School District superintendent. "Nothing's been done, other than put a "For Sale" sign in the yard."
The new school, adjacent to the middle and elementary school campuses, opened Jan. 3. To get public input on the future of the old high school property, which has frontage on Highway 62, the school district is planning a community meeting on Feb. 12 at 1:30 p.m. at the Best Western/Inn of the Ozarks Conference Center.
"We want to get all ideas out on the table," said Sam Kirk, a school board member on the facilities committee.
Kirk, who owns The Eureka Market, said the committee has had interesting discussions about options. School board member Peggy Kjelgaard, director of Eureka Springs School of Art, said that there is great buzz around town about the possibilities.
"I can see potential to redevelop the property," Kirk said.
The old campus consists of 7.1 acres with 68,500 square feet of space in three buildings. It has been on the auction block for two to three years, Turner said, and generated some interest but never anything serious.
The school district is now in the process of moving the last of the usable furnishings out of the buildings, Turner said, then will get rid of anything left and give it all a good cleaning. The school district has reduced the amount of insurance on the building to its actual, not replacement, value, and has turned down the heat, but still has utility bills.
"Obviously the school district needs the revenue," Turner said. "The options are to sell it or lease it."
Preceding the Feb. 12 public meeting, staff from Breakthrough Solutions, a community development program of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, will take a tour of the property, Turner said.
At its January business meeting, the school board supported Turner's suggestion to talk to commercial real estate brokers to see what interest might be out there.
"We want to see what shakes out," he said.
In other business, the school board approved a minor remodel of the middle-school entrance to improve security. School district personnel will do the work, Turner said, which will entail replacing a front window in the office to the left of the main doors with an entry door to route visitors through the office. The board approved $3,000 for the project, mainly for the cost of the door.
The board also approved Turner's looking into buying an additional school bus for field trips and daily transportation, part of the district's effort to prevent the bus fleet from aging out at the same time by rotating in new vehicles.
Turner reported that the school district has filed a court petition asking the state to pay attorney fees and court costs incurred since last March for the lawsuit over local school tax funds, which the district won.
According to district treasurer Pam McGarrah, the district has paid attorney Eugene Sayre of Little Rock a total of $86,876 in fees and court costs. Sayre is a former trial attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Justice tax department and specializes in state and federal tax litigation.