WILSON — Monday night, the USD 112 Board of Education met in Wilson, and thanked and recognized three outgoing board members, Michelle Brokes of Wilson, Jerry Bieberle of Bushton, and Cherlyn Maier of Claflin, who have served the district for the past eight-and-a-half years.
“They are all very good board members who did a good job in a very tough situation at times,” USD 112 Superintendent Greg Clark said.
In June, the board voted to close the middle school in Bushton after voters failed to pass a bond issue to update all four of the district’s buildings. John Lewis Smith with LST Engineering presented a report to the board Monday night detailing what would be involved with moving the recently installed heating and air conditioning system from the Bushton building to the elementary school in Holyrood. Prior to attempting to pass the bond issue, the district approved the installation of the new system.
Currently, no classes are being held in the Bushton building and the district is not using the grounds in any way at this time. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, sixth grade students began attending classes in Holyrood, and eighth grade students began attending classes at the Claflin building where grades 9-12 were already attending, Clark said. The arrangement has allowed the city to save money and breathing room to decide the best path forward.
The community of Bushton is renting one room in the building from the district for the operation of a township library, which is open for a few hours a day, two days a week.
“If the board decides to not continue to heat and cool the space, which it is doing on a very limited basis now, it will eventually need to find a different place to be,” Clark said. “For now, it’s a good idea to allow them to have it there .”
USD 112 has offered to sell the building to the City of Bushton for $1, Clark said, but would not include the current heating and air system. No word yet from the city showing interest, he said, but their leadership has until Dec. 31, according to the non-binding agreement drafted by the board attorney. That agreement would allow the city or the school district to back out of any deal at any time, and was drafted in order to gauge interest.
“Unfortunately, we cannot sell it with the current heating and air in it because we still owe money on it,” Clark said. “We can’t sell something we don’t own.”
Unless the district can get a price to cover that cost, it will have to repurpose the heating and air to another building in the district, he said.
Bids to remove the system will cost over $100,000. But the Holyrood building would benefit from the newer equipment. The board opted not to take action following the presentation. They will revisit their options in 2020.
Clark said the board’s decision to close the Bushton school was based on the number of students served by the district in each community. The communities that feed into the Wilson school supply between 150 to 200 each year, followed by Claflin with 140 to 170 and Holyrood with 70 kids. Bushton supplies 40 kids a year.
“It was a difficult decision but one that needed to be made,” Clark said.