May 10, 2012(Independence, IA) – The Independence Community School District and Independence City Council held a joint work session in March to discuss the possibility of the City acquiring what is currently the Jr./Sr. High School. The City and School Board then formed a joint task force to further research the feasibility and potential costs associated with the building. At that time, the School Board and City Council had discussed possibilities for using the current high school for Parks & Recreation and/or the Police Department.
After researching and evaluating the costs associated with updating the building for City use, the School Board met in April and reached a consensus to withdraw from the task force. “We did not want the City Council to feel they were under any sense of obligation to explore potential uses of the current JR / SR high school,” said John Christensen, a School Board Member and Task Force Representative. The School Board initially felt the City might have some potential uses for the facility. However, the School District reconfirmed costs to renovate just a portion of the facility for City use, and decided to end discussions. The School District’s Task Force representatives informed the Mayor and City Manager of this decision last week.
“As the city and school reviewed the property it became evident that the cost of keeping the existing structure was just not feasible. We were happy that we investigated the idea to see if some of the existing building could be saved and used for City purposes. Even though the city is not interested in the buildings we do want to keep a line of communication open with the school to consider purchase of some of the adjacent property for future city needs,” added City Manager, Steve Diers.
Superintendent Russell Reiter noted that “We have budgeted for the estimated cost of demolition and a small ICN “hub room” that may be necessary to house various fiber optic connections located at the existing site. However, we will need a Board work shop to discuss the various options and then a decision to officially confirm the plans for the facility and a possible ICN hub room”.
“The School Board will schedule a work session in the future to discuss the status of the facility and surrounding land,” said Board President Brian Eddy. “Although the District will continue to occupy the facility until the new school opens in the fall of 2013, we need to be proactive and have a good plan in place to dispose of the facility and land. We are also aware of the desires of nearby residents,” said Eddy. “It is important for the District to make a well thought out decision, be great neighbors and not leave a vacant building sitting around”.
The District will likely schedule a meeting sometime this summer to arrive at a plan for the existing facility.
Jenny Yoder, Fusion Forward