By Jim Newell
Pine Tree Elementary may have closed in June but its fate remains uncertain.
The Lake Orion Board of Education and the board’s Asset Planning Committee tabled any discussion about selling or repurposing Pine Tree until after the school year ended.
Now, the district is revisiting what it should do with Pine Tree and the other properties it owns. The school board voted in November to close Pine Tree at the end of the school year as part of its efforts to “right-size” the district and bring its facilities in line with student enrollment and costs.
The school board’s Asset Planning Committee met on Thursday to brainstorm ideas on what to do with the building and committee members are expected to share their progress with the full school board during a scheduled seven-hour workshop today.
“We are focusing on the best use of Pine Tree, which is the initial charge to the committee,” Ginopolis said.
Ginopolis and school board Trustee Nate Butki, who is on the Asset Planning Committee, have said that Pine Tree is the “linchpin” in the district’s asset planning strategy. Once the school board determines what to do with Pine Tree they can address what to do, if anything, with the district’s other assets that are not currently being used for educational purposes.
“Right now, our major focus is the best use of Pine Tree. So, we’ll be discussing that at the board workshop,” Ginopolis said.
The two options the Asset Planning Committee is exploring is using Pine Tree as some sort of educational facility or as a financial asset to generate revenue for the district, Ginopolis said.
While Ginopolis did not specify what sort of educational use the district could plan for Pine Tree, board members had previously broached the idea of moving or creating money-making programs such as daycare, preschool or other programs to the building.
If the district did decide to sell Pine Tree, it would generate a one-time influx of cash.
“The main question they (the committee members) are asking is, ‘What is in the best interest of the district long-term?” Ginopolis said. “Do they want to use it as some sort of revenue enhancement for the district, or maintain it as an educational facility? That’s what we’re looking at right now and considering all the options.”
The school board also has assessors performing an evaluation on district assets. Lake Orion schools owns property at the corner of Adams and Clarkston roads; Joslyn and Clarkston roads near Orion Oaks Elementary; Pine Tree; and the Administration Building on Lapeer Street.
The district also owns 28 acres at the Moose Tree/Webber Elementary property off Clarkston Road.
Last fall, when the Plante Moran firm presented its review of district properties during the district’s “right-sizing” planning phase, there had been some discussion about sectioning off and selling a portion of that acreage.
Other than closing a school, residents voiced the greatest opposition to selling any land near Moose Tree for development.
Ginopolis said the committee has not discussed the Moose Tree property during its brainstorming. “That’s off the table at this point,” she said.