By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education voted unanimously at its board meeting Dec. 14 to sell the district’s administration building on Lapeer Road in the Village of Lake Orion.
The sale is part of the district’s restructuring plans and selling the building will help rebuild a fund balance that the district has had to tap into over the past few years.
“We’re trying to build up our fund balance, we’re trying to look at the assets that we do have that would not counter against the board’s decision to maintain school assets right now,” said Superintendent Marion Ginopolis.
If the district does sell the administration building, the personnel from that building would move into another one of the district’s buildings.
“I think we have space in some of our facilities, especially like the CERC building, where the administrative function can go. I think (the Administration Building) is a nice piece of property, it’s a nice building. It has great potential, I think, for sale,” she said.
Ginopolis also said the district will consider leasing options if it does not sell the Administration Building.
Assistant Superintendent of Finance John Fitzgerald recommended the district use a Request for Proposal (RFP) sale in a Dec. 6 interoffice memo to Ginopolis, which the board approved, as opposed to hiring a broker/realtor and putting out the “for sale sign.”
A RFP would give the district more leeway in rejecting bid proposals if it did not like theuse to which a potential buyer would put the building.
“In my opinion the key difference between the two choices is that the RFP process provides us the better ability to ‘shape’ the process and responses, better investigate potential purchasers and maintain the Board’s ultimate right to reject any and all proposals,” Fitzgerald wrote.
The recommendation comes after several conversations with the district’s Clark Hill legal counsel, Fitzgerald said.
“Our legal counsel and their (recommended) consultant have been involved with school district facility and land sales for over 20 years.”
“If we’re not happy with any proposals we can reject them,” said board Trustee Bill Holt.
“It’s not just the revenue from the one-time sale, but it’s also the avoidance of ongoing maintenance and upkeep and operations costs of this facility,” said board Secretary Birgit McQuiston.
Ginopolis said she did not want to speculate on the potential price the building could fetch because she did not want any such speculation to influence any bid offers.
Fitzgerald said the district is looking at a January-February 2017 time frame to put the necessary documents together and the executive administrators would then have a better schedule after that to bring to the board.
“One of the things that is to our advantage is that we have space to move in to,” said Ginopolis.
While the board has voted to close Pine Tree Elementary after this school year, no decision has been made as to what to do with the property.
“We want to wait first until we do all the redistricting and everything settles in before any decision is made about Pine Tree, or repurposing the building,” Ginopolis said. “The board decided; they decided they didn’t want to sell any school building assets at this time.”
“The top priority is getting those attendance boundaries redrawn and kids in schools where they’re assigned,” Ginopolis said.
On releasing redistricting boundaries
“Until I am sure that we are giving as accurate information as possible, I’m not going to announce the boundaries,” Ginopolis said. “I would rather people be mad at me that we delayed a little bit, as opposed to be fuming because we told them one that did not materialize.”
“That’s not fair to kids.” – thinking they might go to one school and being told no, the district made a mistake and now they have to go somewhere else,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Rick Arnett is currently working on redrawing the K-8 boundaries and is putting the final details together.
“I would think that at the latest the announcement would be mid-January,” Ginopolis said.