PORT ANGELES — The cash-strapped Port Angeles School District will look at selling and leasing unused and unneeded property across the district after recent School Board action that included authorizing moving the administrative office to the Lincoln Center.
School Board members approved a series of resolutions last Thursday to move its administrative staff to the Lincoln Center, 905 W. Ninth St., from the Central Services Building, 216 E. Fourth St., and to sell the Central Services Building.
The action also included starting the development of sports fields at the former Monroe Elementary School, attempting to lease the former Fairview Elementary School, looking at the value of unused property around Stevens Middle School and one last attempt at having the Donahue House at Port Angeles High School removed before the district moves to demolish the building.
“We’ve gone out to each of our school system buildings … and collected feedback,” Superintendent Martin Brewer told the School Board.
He said the more than 500 employees overwhelmingly supported each proposal and provided copies of responses he received from the district’s employees to the board.
Directors Sandy Long and Cindy Kelly were not present. Directors Bill Kindler, Josh Jones and Sarah Methner unanimously agreed on each of the recommendations.
The district approved $2.6 million in staff cuts this year to address a deficit it said was created in part by the state Legislature’s “McCleary Fix.” The board approved the resignations, retirements and reductions in force of 32 employees Thursday.
Administrative staff will move to the Lincoln Center this summer as the district works to develop a request for proposals to lease the unused space to area nonprofits and community-minded groups.
The Central Services Building property was appraised in 2010 to be valued at more than $1 million and Maintenance and Facilities Director Nolan Duce believes the value has increased by “quite a bit” since then.
“I don’t think it would be too big of a problem to sell that building,” Duce said.
He said currently the district is paying $60,000 to $80,000 extra per year to maintain two administrative buildings and that the savings in one year would more than cover the costs of moving and preparing the building.
Brewer said the district will need to talk with Peninsula College officials about the college’s intent for its portion of the building.
He said unused rooms in the building could be leased at affordable rates that would help the district cover the costs of maintaining the building.
He said that if an organization leases 100 square feet of the building, that organization would also be able to use other “common spaces” in the building, such as the board room.
“I’m very encouraged about the conversations I’ve had,” Brewer said. “Not only will this offset our costs to operate this building, it will create partnerships across our community.”
Monroe and Fairview
Board action Thursday allows the district to begin developing the former Monroe Elementary School site into sports fields.
The board approved up to $250,000 to start the project. The closed school had been used for storage until it was demolished in 2017. Last year district officials said the unused space at Monroe Elementary School made the district eligible for state funding, but only for five years after demolishing the building.
“This would not complete the Monroe site, but it would start the process,” Brewer said. “It’s important to begin work on our capital needs.
The board will also search for a long-term lease for Fairview Elementary School, which has also been closed for several years.
Brewer said the district needs to preserve the building because by having the vacant building the district is eligible for up to $3.5 million in state matching funds for a project in the school district.
“We have at least one community partner interested in a discussion,” Brewer said.
Stevens Middle School property
Duce said there is property around Stevens Middle School that is unused and will likely never be used by the district.
The district owns about a full block of undeveloped timber property near the school and other property in the area.
He said that in the past the block of timber property was appraised for more than $100,000, but that appraisal did not look at the value of the timber.
Duce said if the property is sold, the proceeds would go into the district’s capital projects fund.
He said the district also owns two lots south of the school’s parking lot.
While the school board directed Brewer to take steps to determine the value of the property, the board did not decide whether to sell the property.
The board agreed to issue a request for proposals for the removal of the Donahue House near the tennis courts at Port Angeles High School.
It is the fourth and final time the district will attempt to have the building removed before the district moves to demolish the building, officials said.
“We’ve done at least three RFPs to remove it,” Duce said. “It needs to go. It’s a hazard.”
Duce said the building is full of lead paint and asbestos.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].