Archive for Monday, June 11, 2012

Baldwin school board agrees to sell old elementary school

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

June 11, 2012

The Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education agreed Monday to sell the old elementary school on Chapel Street to Lighthouse Baptist Church.

The church, which is located at the northwest corner of Baker and Sixth streets immediately north of the old Chapel Street school campus, will pay the district $200,000 for the school building and about one square block of property between Chapel and Baker streets. The church will also get the playground equipment on the property.

The church will be responsible for removing the breezeway connecting the old elementary school to the district office building, separation of the building’s utilities and securing city rezoning for future uses. In addition, the church agreed not to use the building for a school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade for the next 15 years.

Superintendent Paul Dorathy said Monday he did not know what the church planned to do with the building.

The board agreed in 2010 to put on the market the elementary school, the district office building and the old gym on the Chapel Street campus. The three buildings and land on which they sit were appraised at $850,000.

The elementary school has been empty since the close of the 2009-2010 school year and the opening of the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center in August 2010.

Comments

1776attorney 2 years, 2 months ago

Once again we, the taxpayers, have been screwed by this superintendent.

The property was appraised at double th $200,000 and now we are stuck with the old house school white elephant for many, many years.

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1776attorney 2 years, 2 months ago

The "old high school", pardon my 200mph typing.

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 2 months ago

Does this include the Gymnasium as well??

Also does anyone else find this clause wrong....

In addition, the church agreed not to use the building for a school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade for the next 15 years.

I mean what is wrong if they did want to open a Private Religious based school there???

Is Dorathy so insecure that he can't handle a little competition of which the greatest benefactor would be the children and the community he is said to serve.....Oh, wait I forget he lives only to serve himself and his over inflated salary.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 2 months ago

BD,

I don't care much for religious schools, but I do very much find that clause disturbing. It simply makes no sense why USD 348 feels the need to restrict it, and likely would be found to be an illegal provision of the contract (if Lighthouse chose to pursue breaking it) because it seems quite contrary to public policy, not to mention an undue restriction on religious activities.

H

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm not advocating religious education either, but if Lighthouse was smart they would simply use their old building to start a private school, I would bet you they would do quite well, since this town is screaming for a viable alternative to the one size fits all monopoly that the Govt run Public schools have now.

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1776attorney 2 years, 2 months ago

The sale includes the gymnasium attached to the old grade school, but not the one most people think of that is part of the old high school. The aforementioned breezeway is between the grade school gymnasium and the east entrance to the old high school.

Trying to restrict the usage of the property in this manner is really strange. Which makes one wonder what the church can actually use the property for. Especially since the asbestos and lead paint are an issue.

Overall, it's an odd sale. And it is to the detriment of taxpayers. The sale price was 1/2 of what the prooperty could have sold for and by separating the whole proprty in half, taxpayers are left with a white elephant (the old high school) which will not sell to anyone for years and years.........long after this superintendent is gone.

I would like to know if Dorathy's deal obligated the school district to finance the sale - to act as mortgage holder. I would like to read the terms of the deal. And we will get to as this is public information.

This doesn't speak well of the new school board either. This is such a bad deal for taxpayers and yet I read no where that this deal was discused in a public forum. The school board seems to have just "rubber stamped" whatever the superintendent wanted. I know many voters expected better governance with this school board.

Dorathy is interviewing with other school districts to leave Baldwin before his contract expires. He would leave a legacy in Baldwin of wild expenditures and bad decision making that will burden taxpayers long after he is gone. Yet his legacy is shared by school boards who were his employers and were tasked with keeping him in check-- and failed to do so.

Nothing against the Lighthouse Baptist Church intended. But Dorathy has no experience in commercial real estate and we can all see now that the "emperor has no clothes". But then he has been naked for years. Only the blind couldn't see him as he was. He was in way over his head and the school board must have been "out to lunch" on this one.

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1776attorney 2 years, 2 months ago

Ms Jones, as with your other newstories, it would be appreciated if you could include how each school board member voted and how this was debated.

The Board of education has failed to update their meeting minutes online since March 2012 and as such they are depriving the taxpayers of exploring these issues.

Thank you.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 2 months ago

1776,

You'll be pleased to note that the Board expressly does not record how each member votes in their minutes. Nothing like setting the stage for lack of accountability to voters. Enjoy.

H.

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1776attorney 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the information. However, I believe under the law, they must record their individual votes. I will try to confirm that.

The current school board was elected to replace the previous incompetent one. It now appears that either the superintendent possess the ability to hypnotize the new school board members or they have now shown themselves to be no better than the previous board.

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straightforward 2 years, 2 months ago

Why can't we just be happy to have sold part of this mess. Sure, $200K is less than what an "expert" said it is worth. In reality, real estate is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. I don't know of anyone else showing much interest in the property. We could have sat on this property for years before anyone else came along, and who says they would have wanted to pay $400K either. The longer it sits there, the more buyers are going to try to "lowball" us.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of Dorathy or most of the decisions our school board has made in recent years and I'm not here to defend them, but in the grand scheme of things I think we're better off disposing of this property and moving on to deal with other problems.

1776 - Personally it makes sense to me to split up the properties. Who is going to want all three of those buildings. It will be much more difficult to sell them as one piece. I agree with you that selling the 3-story building won't be easy but we have to be willing to act on opportunities as they present themselves.

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jgillispie 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with you straightforward - just be happy that it got sold and at a decent price. You can estimate a piece of property will sell for a certain dollar, but if no one is offering that much, then that estimate is a bit high. As for only selling half, maybe that's all Lighthouse wanted. If so, then the $200K cost is for about half of the property, which means the cost is right on with the $400K estimate you heard. Also, the "old high school" as you call it, or "old junior high" when I was in Baldwin houses the District Office. If you sell it, they have to move or build a different building. The school board talked about that a month or 2 ago and like most things in Baldwin, people hated the idea of something new. Also the old gym houses the BHS wrestling and cheer squads. Sell it and where are they going to go? I love how you people love to hate on Dorathy, it's ridiculous. Ya, no one will agree with every decision someone makes, but he took the district that was $300K in the hole and got it out. He also helped build a new elementary THAT WAS NEEDED!!! I've been to many surrounding high schools and they are so much nicer than what Baldwin has - it's quite sad. I went to BHS and I'm proud of what the students accomplish. I can only dream of what they might do if they had the buildings and equipment and facilities that other Frontier League schools have.

Jimmy Gillispie

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hyperinflate 2 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, Jimmy we always knew you were in the tank for Dorathy. That made your reporting very suspect.

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jgillispie 2 years, 2 months ago

I thought he did many good things to help the district, but that didn't change my reporting when I covered the school district with the previous superintendent. For many people, including yourself, it doesn't matter who is the superintendent, you won't be happy with them. I was just glad Mr. Dorathy and the school board were trying to improve USD 348. A lot of people, especially in Baldwin, resist change, but I was one who welcomed it as long as it improved the school district. And for the record, I didn't agree with everything Mr. Dorathy or the school board did!

Jimmy Gillispie

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 1 month ago

Yes you do Jimmie....if you like him your inherit bias comes out you're human.

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straightforward 2 years, 2 months ago

I could be wrong Jimmy but I think the $400k was just for the one story part, so the sale wasn't right on with the estimate. Nevertheless, I think it's best to sell it for what we could.

It scares me to hear anyone still saying we need nicer facilities. That's the thinking that got us into this recent round of expensive capital expenditures. BHS is a fine facility. There's nothing wrong with it that would prevent a student from getting a less than satisfactory education.

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jgillispie 2 years, 2 months ago

If the $400K was just for the one story part, then I apologize for my previous comment. I never heard how much it was appraised for, but I agree it's best to sell for a decent price and get rid of it. BHS is an ok facility and the staff and students make it a great place to learn! I will say I wish the building looked a little newer or had more trophy cases or honored academic achievements on the walls or in trophy cases like the other area schools do. But that's a whole other issue I won't go any further into.

Jimmy Gillispie

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firetree1966 2 years, 2 months ago

Why didn't they just auction the building? Because it would not have sold for the $200K. Here's a better question...How is it that the school board and Dorothy gave away $25-$30K worth of playground equipment? As for you who claim the building didn't bring enough, look at actual comps not the inflated numbers the district came up with.

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1776attorney 2 years, 2 months ago

Those are good questions, firetree1966.

I wonder too how it was possible or acceptable for the superintendent to just giveaway $30,000 in playground equipment. My sources tell me he gave all of it to the Catholic church in town. (Nothing against the church per se). I have not independently verified that, but my source would know. I mean, who gets to make the decision as to who gets freebies from taxpayer owned property. Or a better question is, why would you give it away in the first place?

Secondly, Douglas County appraised the total property valuation of the Chapel Street property at $3.2 million. The appraiser hired by the school board appraised the property at $850,000. Getting a copy of the independent appraisal from the superintendent was almost impossible without a lawsuit, even though it should have been publicly available information by law.

I have talked with members of the Lighthouse Baptist Church who are baffled themselves at the purchase. Not for the amount paid, but that the church bought it at all given the limited uses by the church, plus the $200,000 to $300,000 in additional costs involved in lead paint and asbestos abatement that will have to be accomplished just to make the property usable and up to environmental standards.

The church also owns property north of town that they plan to develop in the future so apparently the old grade school is only an interim, temporary purchase.

I comment on what I hear to be accurate. That's why there is a comment section to ADD to the discussion in a positive way.

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