Baldwin board agrees to put Marion Spring on market
The Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education unanimously agreed to put the closed Marion Springs Elementary School on the market.
District administrators in a report shared with the board last month made the recommendation to sell the land. Superintendent Paul Dorathy said he would meet with an individual soon who had expressed interest in buying the property.
It was the board’s second discussion on facilities since receiving a report in April from district administrators with recommendations for the future uses of all district properties. At a special meeting this month, the board rejected the report’s recommendation the district build a new multi-use center to house district offices, a bus barn, maintenance and other functions. Instead, the board agreed it wanted to make use of unused district properties should the district sell the old Chapel Street gymnasium or trade the two metal buildings on the south side of Chapel Street to Baker University for lease considerations at Liston Stadium. One of the metal buildings houses district maintenance and the other is home to East Central Kansas Educational Cooperative offices.
Two unused sites the board specifically wanted to explore as possible homes for relocated programs were the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium and Vinland Elementary School.
A factor in any new use of Vinland Elementary is the interest of Johnson County and Neosho County community colleges in the site. Dorathy said he would meet with JCCC representatives this week about the building and Neosho County officials would tour the building in the coming weeks.
Dorathy said the community colleges primarily were interested in the Vinland school’s gymnasium but might want other space. The superintendent said he did not know what Neosho County’s interest was, but JCCC was looking at the site to expand its popular welding program.
The board was cautious about the community colleges’ interest in Vinland Elementary because it has discussed using the closed school for a number of possible future uses, including intermediate school classrooms should the district experience unexpected growth, a maintenance shop, Eastern Kansas Education Cooperative offices and classes and wrestling and cheerleading practice space. But the board did authorize Dorathy to meet with the JCCC representatives about their needs and possible lease terms.
It was reported Monday there was $600,000 left in the 2008 bond issue that could be used to remodel the old auditorium rather than to retire bond debt. Board member Sandy Chapman said the remodel would add so much to the junior high she thought it appropriate to use the money on the auditorium.
However, other board members wondered how much $600,000 could accomplish. The answer would require an engineer studying the space for a specific reuse, Dorathy said.
The possible auditorium reuse and Dorathy’s report on his meeting with JCCC representatives will be discussed again at a special meeting the board scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 11. Also on the agenda for that meeting will be a possible switch to contract bus service and interviews with candidates to replace board member Tony Wedel.