Dungeness Valley private school might buy former Fairview School east of Port Angeles
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Fairview Elementary School may become the new site of the private Five Acre School in Dungeness.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School Board unanimously approved the listing of Fairview Elementary School as surplus property Tuesday, which allows the district to list the school and property for sale — and at least one prospective buyer already has come forward.

The school, which was closed in 2007 because of declining enrollment, sits on 9.48 acres at 166 Lake Farm Road east of Port Angeles.

The School Board decided to put the property on the market to help fund the replacement of other aging schools in the district.

“This absolutely breaks my heart,” said board member Sarah Methner.

A special meeting to discuss school replacement will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Central Services Building, 216 E. Fourth St.

Autumn Piontek-Walsh, soon-to-be co-owner of Five Acre School in Dungeness, an independent private elementary school, told the School Board on Tuesday that she was interested in purchasing the property to move the school.

She asked the board whether the district would be interested in a lease-to-own contract.

The district's current process works toward a sale: The district would have to research how a lease-to-own contract would work, said Superintendent Jane Pryne.

The district needs to have an appraisal of the Fairview property completed and a real estate agent hired who specializes in unusual properties such as a school, Pryne said.

The school was mostly recently appraised in 2010 for $1,055,000.

Any funds raised by the sale of the property are required by state law to be recycled back into the district's capital building fund, for maintenance or for planning or construction of school buildings.

The board wants to use that money to pay for the research and development of a plan to replace four aging district schools — Port Angeles High School, Stevens Middle School and Hamilton and Franklin elementary schools — each of which was built to last from 30 to 40 years but are now between 50 and 60 years old.

The cost of maintenance of the older buildings increases each year, and work necessary to upgrade those four schools to meet modern seismic standards and Americans With Disabilities Act requirements would cost almost as much as replacing the schools, the board determined.

A sale also would put the property back on the tax rolls, board member Cindy Kelly noted.

Piontek-Walsh and her husband, Brian Walsh, are purchasing Five Acre School from Bill Jevne and Juanita Ramsey-Jevne, with the transfer to be completed in January.

Founded in 1995, Five Acre School has outgrown its facility at 515 Lotzgesell Road near Dungeness

The current school building has four classrooms, with multi-age classes for students in kindergarten through the sixth grade, Piontek-Walsh said.

Right now, most of the students are from the Sequim area, but there is a “very intense” carpool contingent of Port Angeles students, she said.

Piontek-Walsh said she hopes that moving the school to a larger facility between Clallam County's two largest cities means the school can better serve both populations and grow as needed.

Fairview was built in 1973, with additions and upgrades in 1978, and has received only basic maintenance since it was closed in 2007.

“It will need lots of cosmetic work, but there is no major concerns that I am aware of,” Piontek-Walsh said.



Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 14. 2012 6:15PM
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