The Monterey School Building could be put up for sale in the near future. After it was determined last month that the Culver Community Schools Corporation doesn’t owe any debt on the building, the corporation is now moving ahead with efforts to sell it.
School corporation attorney Jeff Houin told the school board Monday what the next steps are. He says according to state law, the corporation needs to register the former school with the Indiana Department of Education, which will place it on a statewide list of unused buildings. “That was part of some of the changes a few years ago in the law that were very charter-school- friendly,” he says. “The reason you have to do that is you cannot sell the building for at least two years while it’s being listed, and during that time, a charter school has the option to purchase or lease the building for one dollar per year.”
However, Houin says there’s now a waiver process that would let the corporation sell the building sooner, “That process consists of submitting the application for the waiver. The Department of Education then sends that information to the charter school authorizing agencies within the state, so that they know that it’s not only available but you’re trying to move more quickly than the two-year time frame. They have 30 days to object to the waiver, and if they do not, then you’re automatically granted the waiver, and you can proceed with the process of selling it.”
Houin says in order for an objection to be made, a charter school agency would then have one year to get a school up and running. He adds that there are no local charter schools in the planning stages that he’s aware of, so an objection to the waiver would be unlikely.
School board members agreed to let Interim Superintendent Chuck Kitchell list the property with the Department of Education. Kitchell says selling the Monterey Building will save the corporation about $50,000 per year, “We’re still heating it a little bit. We’re still running some water through the lines a little bit. We still have insurance on it. We still mow the grass. We still push some snow. So, somewhere upwards of $50,000 a year to maintain in the state that it is.” However, corporation treasurer Casey Howard pointed out that not all of that money comes from the General Fund, which is where the corporation is struggling most with its budget.
In addition to the cost savings associated with the sale of the Monterey Building, Howard also provided the school board with dollar amounts for other proposals put forth in the cost-containment section of the strategic plan adopted by the corporation in November. Kitchell says another proposal the corporation should consider is moving the administrative offices out of their stand-alone building, “What we came up with for cost of this building, for an annual cost, is again approximately $50,000 that were into this building every year, and again part of that’s general fund and part of that’s CPF. We do believe that we’re going to have room in the Middle School office complex to move everything in this office to the Middle School, move all the personnel.” However, the corporation would first have to spend an estimated $30,000 to move all the equipment.
Another cost-saving measure discussed Monday was the possible consolidation of bus routes. Treasurer Casey Howard said cutting two drivers might bring as much as $55,000 in savings, but she noted that money comes from the Transportation Fund and the savings would do nothing to help the General Fund.
Additionally, the corporation will be able to save some money by not purchasing new school buses this year. Transportation director Paul Widman told the school board that the buses are in good shape, and recommended that they hold off on a potential purchase.
The school board will likely further consider some of the cost cutting measures at future meetings.