FAYETTEVILLE -- The Fayetteville School Board wants to sell the former Jefferson Elementary School while also encouraging a community-oriented role for the property after it is sold, board members said Thursday.
Trying to set a use for the property after it is sold could discourage potential buyers and affect the price, the school district's Realtor for the property warned.
Mary Claire Hyatt, the district's general counsel, crafted a resolution expressing the board's preferences without making those desires binding on a buyer. This gives potential buyers notice of what the board is looking for, she said. Such a resolution allows the board to justify a sale to a buyer who met those requests even if another buyer who did not offered a better price, Hyatt said. The discussion of the issue at Thursday's meeting and the recording of that discussion also shows the board's intentions to potential buyers, Hyatt said.
The board agreed with Hyatt's resolution and its wording, approving the draft with no dissenting vote and with six board members present.
The resolution states that the board will consider "the importance of preserving the history of the property and its significance to the community" when choosing a buyer. The board will also consider the buyer's plans for the property and those plans' impact to the community, including but not limited to whether those plans offer public access to some of the property, mixed use and uses that serve the community. Whether the intended use aligns with the Walker Park Neighborhood Plan and whether the buyer has "demonstrated experience with historic preservation or redevelopment" are also considerations.
The school is at the southeast corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South College Avenue. The site served as an adult education center after the elementary school closed in 2006. The 41,886-square-foot school, the main building on the site, was built in 1930.
In other business, the board discussed a timeline to find a replacement for retiring Superintendent John L Colbert. All dates discussed are tentative, but plans are to have online surveys, meetings with staff and parent stakeholder groups and other public comment before drafting the profile of what the district wants in a superintendent, according to the plans discussed Thursday between the board and representatives of GR Recruiting, the consulting firm hired by the board to help in the search.
The board and GR hope to begin accepting applications by late October and begin interviews of prospects by late January. Board member Justin Eichmann reminded the GR spokesmen, who attended by video, that the consultants could not join the board interviews by video link under the state's open meeting law. Eichmann and other members of the board told the GR representatives to advise applicants that Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act was stronger than similar laws in other states.