The Dothan City Schools Board is formally requesting the city of Dothan’s leadership to relinquish ownership of all school properties.
Members unanimously approved a recommendation by Superintendent Phyllis Edwards to write a letter to Mayor Mark Saliba to ask for the deed transfer.
“What this will do is make a clean picture of what the school board owns and takes care of,” Edwards said at Monday night’s board meeting.
Now that the system has reorganized, Edwards said she believes the board should retain the buildings it’s currently using and maintaining.
In the letter, the board also will formally hand over rights to Grandview Elementary and Montana Street Magnet school properties to the city.
The city was prepared to take over ownership and sell all three school buildings no longer in use, but Edwards said she plans to hold the former Cloverdale Elementary building to instruct students in remediation.
“I’m holding Cloverdale because, honestly, I feel like we have some issues with remediation that we need to work on, and I want to have that in order to make sure that at some point, and we’re not ready yet, but if we’re able to, rather than wait until summer school, it would be great to be able to do some remediation work throughout the school year,” she said.
The city holds deeds to all properties in the school system that are paid for including Dothan Preparatory Academy, Dothan High School, Carver, Beverlye, Dothan Early Education Center (formerly Honeysuckle), Girard Primary, Girard Intermediate, Kelly Springs Elementary, Selma Street Elementary, Minnie T. Heard Elementary and Jerry Lee Faine Elementary.
Highlands, Hidden Lake and Morris Slingluff schools were financed jointly by the city and the school system in 2000 with the understanding that titles are retained by the school district.
“We work cooperatively, and it’s always good practice for the school system, if we take care of a property, that in fact we own it,” Edwards said. “Sometimes, the way things grow up is that the city systems (government) often have the property and they control that yet the school is using it and takes care of it, maintenance-wise.”
The letter is a first step in getting ownership of the properties, each worth millions of dollars. Meetings with the city manager and attorneys, and a vote by the Dothan City Commission will still need to happen.
The school system is still in the process of moving the technology center’s servers and equipment from the Dusy Street location to space at the former Honeysuckle building.
The city has declared its intent to release a request for proposals for anyone interested in the grounds, Randy Morris, director of general services for the city, previously told The Eagle.
“Once they’re received, the City Commission will decide what is in the best interest of the community and move forward with accepting whichever proposal,” he said. “They’re very large parcels and very large buildings, and (it) requires a large budget to cover just maintaining them as well as paying for utilities.”
Morris said anyone interested can submit interest to purchase the properties — nonprofits, developers — as long as they can provide proof of finances enough to cover all necessary costs.
He said the city may discuss a lease, but it would prefer to transfer the title to someone with the best interest of the surrounding community.
“It is required for people to tell us how they want to use them and show funds for how they plan to maintain them,” he said. “We don’t want them to become neglected or rundown.”
It is unclear now how much they are worth or how many acres are in each parcel of land, but Morris did list how much each building is insured for, including contents and the square footage of each:
» Montana Street Magnet School: $5.02 million, 41,746 square feet.
» Cloverdale Elementary: $4.3 million; 36,067 square feet.
» Grandview: $6.24 million; 54,659 square feet.
» Central office buildings, including Young Junior, which is not for sale: $10.14 million; 49,752 square feet.
The central office headquarters is still at the Wells Fargo building on Ross Clark Circle, but Edwards said plans are still moving forward to get all staffers moved inside the DEEC, a process that could take about a year.