PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles School District will not sell Fairview Elementary School after officials realized keeping the vacant building makes the district eligible for about $4 million in state funding.
“It’s actually more valuable for us to hang on to and use as state assistance,” said Assistant Superintendent Chuck Lisk. “It’s like a check in the bank.”
The school at 166 Lake Farm Road was closed in June 2007 due to declining enrollment.
Lisk said the district recently realized that the 26,568-square-foot building would be eligible for state assistance through the state School Construction Assistance Program.
Lisk said the program allows districts to leverage space they are not using to modernize or build new schools.
The state has contributed about $3.9 billion to 1,315 school construction and renovation projects in the past 20 years, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The district’s plan is to leverage those funds to help replace Franklin Elementary School in the coming years, Lisk said.
It currently costs the district $17,000 each year to maintain the building, but Lisk said the payoff would be worth the cost.
With Monroe Elementary School demolished over the summer, Lisk said keeping Fairview under the district’s ownership would give the district extra storage.
Before Monroe was demolished, it had been used as storage.
Lisk said law enforcement also uses Fairview as a training area.
“It’s a great place to store some things we need to hang on to, and it’s still good for the community for several things as well,” Lisk said.”Once we do use it and we build a new Franklin, we still have options.”
He said among those options would be demolishing Fairview or hanging on to it in anticipation of more growth.
There have been a few proposals for the shuttered school in recent years, including transforming it into a marijuana production and processing facility or as a possible housing solution.
In 2015, Kurt Jafay withdrew his offer to buy the school and ended his plans to grow and process marijuana at the facility.
Last year, Serenity House investigated whether the 9.4-acre property could be converted into a shelter for homeless families and teenagers.
There wasn’t enough funding available to push the idea forward.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.