i-Team: Building the Future of MPS
As MPS leaders work to get its financial house in order, in the midst of the state intervention, every option is on the table, including job cuts.
State Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson has said he doesn’t want cuts to impact classrooms by cutting teachers, so consolidation is likely on the horizon for many schools in the near future.
Richardson says the district will also consider selling empty school buildings or other vacant lots to help offset the district’s budget deficit. “when you’re losing 700 students a year you can’t justify it, it costs you to keep those schools up so that’s one way to gather some money.”
The district currently has ten surplus properties. Five lots that are just land and five are lots with buildings on them, including the Houston Hill campus in downtown, the former home of LAMP, and the McIntyre campus In West Montgomery.
“If you’ll go back and look at the board minutes. Ever since 2012, we’ve been looking for processes to divest ourselves of these properties, either to repurpose or sell or whatever the case maybe,” said Donald Dotson, Executive Director of Operations for MPS.
Even if the district were to unload all of its current surplus properties tomorrow, the properties still would not generate the kind of money needed to wipeout the budget shortfall. “You’re looking at roughly just these buildings; well over a $1 million; nothing that would correspond with the Georgia Washington sale, as well as the head sale. When you think back we sold the head school; it was $1.5 million.”
The old head location generated so much money because of the number one rule in real estate; Location, Location, Location.
It was torn down and transformed into what’s become a very popular strip mall at the corner of Perry hill and Atlanta highway. Based on recent appraisals, the locations of the district’s current surplus properties aren’t as prime as the old head location. Other factors have to also be considered before the properties can be off loaded.
“Buildings that we have are mostly school in neighborhoods and so you’ve got an institutional building that’s sitting in a neighborhood, so there would have to be a specific value, a specific need; most often times that’s going to be a community based need or non-profit that can’t afford the price tag that we’re going to put on the building,” said Dotson
He also says there has been some recent interest in the properties. He plans to present that information to the board soon.