The Missoula County Public Schools board discussed the sale or lease of the Homevale property belonging to the district in its meeting on Tuesday.
The board granted permission to issue a request for proposal to hear from parties interested in the Homevale property, which is technically split into two parcels of land.
The property sits in a small triangle between South Avenue and Stephens, across the street from the MCPS Business Building. It was deemed to be undesirable and unsuitable for school purposes by the district. A building on the property is currently used as storage for district furniture and equipment.
Trustees previously approved a resolution to authorize the sale of the property during a board meeting on Aug. 14.
If sold or leased, the money would go toward the MCPS miscellaneous program fund. The sale would allow MCPS to renovate district buildings that were not covered by the voter-approved bonds without asking taxpayers for more money, Superintendent Mark Thane said in a press release.
MCPS will put together a committee to evaluate language in the request for proposal, and will bring that to the board for review and approval at the Sept. 25 meeting.
“Once we get submittals, that committee will evaluate, score the responses and bring back recommendations for the trustees to consider,” Thane said Tuesday.
Thane added that this step to grant permission to draft a request for proposal will allow the district to continue the conversation with the public.
“I would like to see something like that go into a trust where the money is not used by a particular school board in the general fund,” community member Robert Cole said in the meeting. “In essence, it goes into a trust and you can use the interest off of it but the principal never goes away.”
Cole said his interest in the sale of the Homevale property was sparked by questions surrounding the use of the property that is currently home to Cold Springs Elementary School, which will be vacated when construction at the new Jeannette Rankin Elementary School is complete. Cole said he would like to see the Cold Springs property used as a park or in a way that benefits the community.
“If you did sell it, I would like to see the money not go into the general fund,” Cole said. “I’d like to see it go into a trust of some sort so that it puts a check and balance on you guys, so that you just don’t sell properties or whatever just to use in a quick turnover in your general fund.”
The decision to grant permission to draft a request for a proposal does not commit the board to any action with the potential sale or lease of the property, Thane said.
“The board will evaluate any responses to the proposals to determine whether or not they want to exercise any of those options or negotiate any of those options,” Thane said.
Trustees will review a draft of the request for proposal at the next board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25.