Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

School Leaders Balking at Plan to Sell Property

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

School Leaders Balking at Plan to Sell Property

Article excerpt

MANATEE: Board members say move to fix deficit lacks vision

MANATEE COUNTY

In yet another move to address a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, the Manatee County School Board on Monday heard a proposal to sell some properties that would be considered surplus lands.

The sales -- including two parcels near Braden River High School and another near Bayshore High School -- would help a financially reeling district that is expected to have a budget shortfall of nearly $15 million at the end of this year.

Jane Dreger, director of construction services, presented a draft of the procedure to declare the property surplus and sell it off.

But the board had several concerns.

"I need a vision for the properties we currently have to the point that we can address our current budget needs and also the future," said board member Barbara Harvey.

Off the table already after Monday night's discussion was some property near King Middle on the corner of Ninth Avenue Northwest and 75th Street. The district owns 6.3 acres, and staff had suggested selling 5.2 acres.

The board voted 3-1 against the sale.

Board member Dave Miner said he thought the original purchase was a bad idea, but said he has concerns about a sale because the tennis courts on the property are used by the community.

Robert Gause did not vote, citing a conflict of interest.

The district's website says the property was bought for $750,000 in 2004, when Roger Dearing was superintendent. Miner said Monday that the district paid $1 million. The district website says it was appraised in April at $520,000.

There are seven tennis courts, some parking and a retention pond on the site primarily used by Manatee High's tennis team and students of King.

'Ongoing process'

Board chairwoman Karen Carpenter acknowledged the sale of the properties is an "ongoing process."

Not all of the land has been appraised, and Florida law requires the district to declare each property a surplus, which has yet to occur.

Two parcels near Braden River High School have been considered for sale.

One is on State Road 70 and consists of 7.2 acres that is deemed a prime piece of real estate that could be used for commercial enterprises and business offices. …

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