By Jim Newell
Lake Orion Community Schools plans to sell property it owns in Oakland Township and will repurpose Pine Tree Elementary, something the school board members had hoped for all along after announcing last November that the district would close the school.
The board of education directed Superintendent Marion Ginopolis and the executive administration staff to draft a proposal to sell 20 acres of district owned land at the corner of Adams and Clarkston roads in Oakland Township.
“It’s one of our assets and it’s something that will enhance our fund equity,” Ginopolis said. “The RFP (request for proposal) should go out within a month.”
Last fall, the district’s planning consultant’s, Plante Moran CRESA, had valued the property at up to $2.1 million if sold for housing development. Those numbers have since changed.
“The up to $2.1 million estimated valuation was based on the average price paid per acre in Oakland County over the previous year as presented in the CRESA report. We have since contracted a third-party consultant to do a deep dive into the specifics of our property relative to the local market,” said John Fitzgerald, assistant superintendent of business and finance.
“Based on that report, the estimated net proceeds the district could expect ranged from $500,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the type of housing and the pricing. The difference in expected valuations from the “County average” to our specific report is really the conditions and restrictions required by Oakland Township,” he said.
The school district also owns vacant land at Webber Elementary behind Moose Tree, vacant land north of Orion Oaks Elementary on Joslyn Road and the Administration Building on Lapeer Street, which had previously been proposed for sale for lease.
“There are no plans at this time to sell those properties. We’re focusing on selling the Clarkston Road property and then we’ll look at our other assets,” Ginopolis said.
The district also is working with Oakland Intermediate School District to use the lower level of Pine Tree as a Separate Center Program for All, operating in conjunction with the OISD as a center-based special education facility for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) elementary and middle school students in northern Oakland County.
There is no change to the ASD programs housed at Orion Oaks and Blanche Sims elementary schools, according to a news release from the district.
Lake Orion schools would move its phases program from the CERC building to the top half of Pine Tree, Ginopolis said.
“It’s pretty close to being a done deal. We’re working out the specifics with the ISD,” she said, adding the Phases Program “would be open to others in the county,” not just Lake Orion students.
Lake Orion schools would administer the programs and hire the teachers and program leadership, Ginopolis said.
The district hopes to have the new programs start in the fall of 2018.
Pine Tree’s estimated repair costs over six years could be more than $2.1 million, according to the Plante Moran study. Fitzgerald said that number is still accurate.
“We are anticipating about $800,000 of work over the next three years and including about $80,000 in site work by this fall,” he said.