BEVERLY - The Fort Frye Local Board of Education voted Thursday to purchase a house that sits in front of the school on Fifth Street.
During its regular meeting Thursday at Beverly-Center Elementary, the board unanimously approved a motion to purchase the home, located at 416 Fifth St., from the Hilah Joan Baughman estate for $50,170, pending an adjustment for closing costs.
The district has no immediate plans for the property, but administrators and board members said it made sense to buy it, especially since the asking price is below what they expect market value to be.
"We believe the market value would be somewhere in the 70s ($70,000)," Superintendent Tom Gibbs said.
The decision comes as the district is projected to spend nearly half a million dollars more than it takes in in the new fiscal year. But Gibbs said the house will be purchased using money from the permanent improvement fund, which currently has about $3 million in it.
The house has been owned by the same family since the school opened, Gibbs said, meaning the district didn't have to wonder much about who its neighbors would be. Purchasing the structure means the district has control over that.
Special meeting - 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, superintendent's office at Beverly-Center Elementary.
Regular meeting - 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, Beverly-Center cafeteria.
"There were concerns over what might be in the front yard of the school district," Gibbs said.
Options for the property include razing the structure, putting restrictions on its usage and selling it or renting it out, as the district does with a house next door. However, Gibbs advised against that option, noting the district does not make very much money from the rental, for which it charges less than $500 a month and must pay property tax and other expenses.
"I don't think school districts should be in the rental business," he said.
Several board members indicated their preference would be to tear it down, with David White suggesting the district look into getting a discount by allowing a company to salvage some of the woodworking in the house.
In other business:
The board on Thursday accepted the resignations of Beverly-Center Principal Brent Taylor and high school Assistant Principal Trisha Delaney. They were recently hired by the Warren Local school district, for which Gibbs also serves as superintendent, to be the principals at Little Hocking and Warren Elementary, respectively. Each will earn about $64,000 a year.
Interviews for the positions are scheduled for Wednesday, and the board slated a special meeting for 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, to consider the recommendations on who to hire. Gibbs said the next regular meeting would come after the start of school and he would like to have the principals approved before then.
Even with summer halfway over, Gibbs said this isn't an unusual time to be looking for principals.
"I got hired at Warren Elementary School 10 years ago a week before school started," he said.
The district is looking at candidates already working in the school system or people who live in the Beverly area, Gibbs said. The smaller size of the district's schools make them a good place for teachers to transition to administrators, he said.
"It's really a good place for a teacher to get their feet wet," he said.
Gibbs said the vacancies also provide an opportunity to reassess the district's administrative structure in an effort to save money by possibly consolidating some responsibilities.
The board approved a contract with the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center for new software at a cost of $32.20 per pupil, plus $800 per building. White noted it was a significant increase over the previous rate, but Gibbs said the district has little choice because its current system is outdated and no longer supported and the new system was selected at the regional level.
The board also approved a fixed electric utility contract with FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. which is expected to save the district approximately $30,000 a year, Treasurer Melcie Wells said.