The Dothan City School board approved the restructuring of the district’s school in November 2018. The approval could also be viewed as a consequential announcement that the district would abandon three elementary schools and several properties on Dusy Street.
Closing properties include: Cloverdale, Montana Magnet and Grandview Elementary schools and two buildings on Dusy Street, as well as the remaining portion of Young Junior being used as storage for central office’s data center.
The closures have raised many questions about the abandoned lots, as many of the buildings are near neighborhoods or communities.
Who owns the school buildings?
The city of Dothan owns all school properties except for the three elementary schools that were built in 2000: Hidden Lake, Highlands, and Morris Slingluff. These three were built with a $24,000,000 bond issued to the city of Dothan. The city made an agreement with the school board to split the cost of the debt over 20 years, and agreed that the schools would be owned by the board of education.
The building of the schools was a hotly-debated topic in 1999 because of issues deciding on an architectural firm and several citizens who believed the schools were not necessary and were being built to separate students in primarily white neighborhoods by building the schools outside the inner city.
All closing properties belong to the city. It is unclear why or how that came to be.
The city is leasing Young Junior, a school building built in 1921, to the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center. The rest of the building will be allowed for their use once all the data center’s equipment is removed.
When will the properties be cleared out?
Most everything has already been removed from the schools although there is some equipment still inside Cloverdale and the administrative offices. Everything will be cleaned out by the end of the school’s fiscal year on Sept. 30. Oct. 1, the responsibility of the properties will be with the city.
What is the city planning on doing with the properties?
The big one that everyone’s been wondering…
Essentially, they are being put up for sale.
The city has declared its intent to release a request for proposals for anyone interested in the grounds within the next few weeks, according to Randy Morris, director of general services for the city of Dothan.
“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 that anyone interested can buy 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…”
How much are the properties worth?
It is unclear at this time how much they are worth or how many acres are on each parcel of land, but Morris did have some numbers on how much each building was insured for, including contents, and the square footage of each building.
>>Montana Street Magnet School: $5,025,100, 41,746 sq. ft.
>>Cloverdale Elementary: $4,309,300; 36,067 sq. ft.
>> Grandview: $6,244,400; 54,659 sq. ft.
>> Central office buildings, including Young Junior which is not for sale: $10,146,300; 49,752 sq. ft.
Chalk Talk, an education notebook compiled by education beat reporter Sable Riley, appears each weekend in the Dothan Eagle and at DothanEagle.com