School Board Considers Options for Old Junior High Buildings

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At the regular June meeting of the Harrison School Board what to do with the vacant junior high school property was a topic of discussion. Superintendent Stuart Pratt presented the results of a recent appraisal of the property to the Board who will consider its options and come to a decision on how to proceed at their July meeting.

                For the purpose of the discussion the property was divided into two parts. Part one consists of the original classroom building, gymnasium, entry, and offices south of College Avenue. The appraisal for the 3.5 acres of land on which the property sits appraised for $300,000. The buildings and land together appraised for $1.4 million.

                The most valuable item on this parcel is the gymnasium which by itself along with the 3.5 acres of land appraised for $1.18 million if the classroom building were demolished. The demolition estimate totaled $220,000. Special considerations have to be made to contain and properly dispose of the asbestos which is currently concealed within the building.

The second parcel which consists of the cafeteria/armory, storage building, and cistern/storage appraised for $400,000 as is.  Being that these buildings were funded by public tax dollars the board cannot currently consider an offer for less than the fair market value. However, the board was skeptical that they would find a buyer willing to pay that amount for the buildings considering their age and condition.

The buildings are currently costing the district $106,000 in annual maintenance and are plagued with regular break-ins and vandalism. The classroom building will also require a new roof within approximately three years which is expected to cost around $700,000.

Besides selling the buildings outright for the appraised price the board will also consider an appeal to the Arkansas Department of Education who would advertise the property to area charter schools for 30 days. If there is no offer within that time the district would then be able to sell the property for any price they deem acceptable.

The board will meet again on July 27th at 7:00 PM at the board of education building.

Story by Coleman Taylor