Dear PUSD School Board and public,
As a former teacher at Washington School, I feel extremely lucky to have worked at such a special school. It bears a significant history that serves as a draw for intergenerational groups of people. This is a rare thing in these times, and needs to be safeguarded and shared with future generations. It was truly a moving experience for me to teach at Washington during its last year of K-5 grade operation. I was overwhelmed with emotion while observing elderly folks, middle-aged people, and children connect over their memories of their school. It has meant so much to so many, and it brings people together in the pursuit of knowledge.
This priceless resource that has always been a place of learning for youth will not be protected without the stewardship of Prescott Unified School District (PUSD). The preschool, Discovery Gardens, is currently housed at Washington School, and it is flourishing, as well as generating revenue for the district. In addition, PUSD is already able to lease the property. The potential for Washington School to generate further revenues through leases, while continuing to house the preschool, is viable and could enable the district to maintain the school.
I think it is critical that the board protect the community's asset. Washington School is a historic public resource that belongs to future generations. It was the oldest continuously operating school in the state of Arizona, and it is already technologically outfitted for seamless integration of technology in education (aka the Blended Learning Model). Washington School's implementation of the Blended Learning Model, and Principal Harold Tenney's championship of the model earned it the prestigious honor of the Arizona Golden Bell Award last year. The school district's investment to wire the building for this successful program has already been made, and it is right-sized for alternative programs that can operate as revenue generators.
I urge the school board to keep Washington School within PUSD, so that it can continue to be the learning place that it was designed to be for children. It is no ordinary school, and the community deserves to benefit from this historical, yet educationally innovative environment.
1. . Call to Order - President Scott Hicks
2. Approval of Agenda - President Scott Hicks
3 Opening Ceremony
A. Welcome - President Scott Hicks
B. Pledge of Allegiance - Mr. Nathan Tenney
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
A. Consider approving the minutes from the Study and Voting Session of January 5, 2016.
The Governing Board wanted to have a Work/Study session around what to do with the buildings in the district that the voters have given permission to sale. The Board was interested in discussing different options and hearing input from community members regarding this topic. Presenter: Mr. Joe Howard, Superintendent
STUDY AND VOTING SESSION
1. Consider approving academic calendars for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 as presented. RELEVANT INFORMATION: School calendars must be approved by the Governing Board per Governing Board policy. The administration is presenting the Governing Board with academic school calendars for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. These proposed calendars are very similar to our school calendars used for the past five years and represents a calendar "template" that staff and families seem to enjoy and best meet the educational needs of our students. An additional spring holiday has been maintained in order to keep the final exam and teacher checkout days the same for a total of 180 instructional days. Advantages to the proposed calendars: 1. Semesters are balanced as to the number of school days;
"Honestly, the other schools can go before Washington... We need to preserve the beauty of our town so that others can come and enjoy," Mr. Rodarte said.
Boys and Girls Club is asking to lease the Washington Gym for their programs. They would use the gym for older kids. "I would guarantee the district would not lose money."
The idea is to continue the Discovery Gardens program at the school. "I feel that this would be a win-win."
Harold Tenney: "It was a painful decision, as you all know, the closing of Washington and Miller Valley." He said that the former staff burst into cheers when they heard that Discovery Gardens would be housed there. Pointing out that DG is up 31% since they've been there. "I'm hoping that Discovery Gardens can be a feeder system to the district, too."
"Prescott's everybody's hometown, people around here think that [Washington] is everybody's school," Tenney said.
Erickson says, "I love Washington, and I'm glad it's generating money. I'd love to see our District office there, I'd like to see this whole building sold... It's a great historic building, and as long as it's making money, I think we should keep it."
President Scott Hicks thinks it could be home to the District Office, and lease it out over the weekends, too.
Tina Seeley states that selling this District building is not an easy question.
4 Buildings District Approved for Sale:
Problems selling this property (district property) include tanks below the building, and the flood plain, and asbestos. So, they didn't go to the expense of having an appraisal done. This used to be a bus barn and the fuel tanks are underground.
Bloomtree Realty points out that he has another property he's representing, that has gas tanks buried. But, removing the tank is expensive. "I've dealt with 3 tank properties, I don't think it's a deterrent... There were stipulations that limited property being built on for that time. It didn't deter the buyer, we just factored it in to the price."
It cost about $30K to remove the tanks.
Hicks, after listening to them, thinks that it may be worthwhile to get an appraisal here.
Another representative that used to work with the FDIC, Tony Ferrulli. said that in his experience, it is difficult to find financing for properties with environmental concerns.
JT Pervis: The contaminator retains the liability. Says lenders will do a phase 1 report - "What is my risk as a buyer?" Soil has to be tested, and it depends on what level it is.
One thing that is interesting, it turns out that there are a lot of underground oil and gas tanks around here. Once tanks are pulled, and the soil is tested, if they're ok, ADEQ will issue a letter of closure.
Most buyers will ask for a Phase 1 Report, there will be an associated expense.
He points out that Washington has sentimentality - but states that the Board has to do their homework.
"Everything you've got is sellable, it just depends on how you put it out there."
Pervis asks if the district wants to be in the landlord business. If they lease buildings, the money can be used in any way for the district, if they sell the buildings, the money can only be used for large capitol repairs.
Dickerson said that there have not been any offers, not even one, on Dexter.
Leases can be up to 10 years.
Purvis asks how much people might want to invest if they can only get a 19 year lease.
It is suggested that they look at a variety of appraisals - lease-based, sale, and highest and best use.
Howard said they found out that the District isn't bound by law to sell for the lowest appraised price.
Mengarelli thinks he would be interested in getting to a good listing for all properties. "I'm interested in leveraging all of these properties as quickly as possible... I know we need revenue, I don't think we'll need many schools in the future."
Dickerson thinks they should do a new appraisal on Dexter, and an appraisal on all the buildings. "We need to be careful on the appraisals," Seeley said. "The last one on Dexter didn't do us any favors." She recommends they use a local appraiser that understands the area and the historical aspect.
If they were to do the appraisals, it would wipe out the inter-governmental lease fund.
Bloomtree points out that there is a strong market for leasing, but it may cost a lot of money to get the properties ready to sell.
Mengarelli wants to have as many options as possible.
Purvis suggests that Dexter could have the appraisal updated for a fraction of the cost of a new appraisal.
Purvis said he will put in an RFP for at least some of the properties.
The district offices are about 18K feet.
Mardi Read said that any buyer will want samples of soils around properties to be sold.
Village at the Boulders - appraisal for $6K for several properties.
They can probably get appraisals done for $10-13K for both properties.
Dexter: They didn't believe that an investor would find it appealing. FinneyValuations.com There's a difference between what an appraiser says a property would be worth, and what an investor is willing to risk.
Mackin, Hicks and Erickson all say that Washington is the most appealing to retain.
They want to pursue getting appraisals done.
Miller Valley is an attractive property, the sentimental value is at Washington.
Dexter is being leased for $11K per month.
Final outcome: The staff will bring back options for appraisals and Phase 1 reports, as well as do some research on old building plans and land useages.
Discussion in sacrificing Good Friday or Professional Development Day in the case of needing to make up for snow days.
The calendar is being decided for a two year period of time.
2. First semester ends prior to the Winter Break;
3. Fall Break and Spring Break occur at the end of a grading period and remain a full week;
4. The school year ends before Memorial Day;
5. Our traditional holidays and days off are maintained. The administrative staff will be available to answer any questions from the Governing Board.
Presenter: Mr. Joe Howard, Superintendent Consider approving revisions to Governing Board Policies GCCA - Professional
Calendar approved unanimously
- Consider approving revisions to Governing Board Policies GCCA - Professional / Support Staff Sick Leave, GCCB - Professional / Support Staff Personal / Emergency / Religious Leave, GDC - Support Staff Leaves and Absences, and GDCB - Support Staff Personal / Emergency / Religious Leave as presented.