May 16, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 4

School board votes to surplus Fisher Building

The Cheney School District board of directors voted unanimously to declare the district’s Fisher Building as surplus property. It’s the first step in the process of selling the 84-year-old former high school, appraised at $1,055,000.

File photo
The Cheney School Board voted to surplus the 84-year-old Fisher Building.

District executive director for finance and operations Brian Aiken told the board the appraisal figure, prepared by Auble, Jolicoeur & Gentry, was in the “ball park” for what they expected. He also noted that the district does have the ability to ask potential buyers to meet certain conditions in any sale, such as retaining the historic nature of the building.

“We’ve had a lot of comments and interest in that building being a viable part of our community and I think we all share that interest,” Aiken said.

Several audience members made final comments to the board about Fisher and hopes to preserve it as a useful structure. Resident Christine Bruntlett said that while not a Cheney High graduate, she is a Pullman High School alumna, and noted when the time came to build a new high school, that city turned the existing historic structure into a community center housing a variety of organizations and activities.

“Maybe there’s a way the Fisher Building could become a community center in Cheney,” she said. “I’m not sure how that would happen, but I feel there are people in town who could make it happen.”

In a sign of the sensitive nature of the issue, when board president Suzanne Dolle asked for a motion to surplus, nobody on the board made any movement to do so for almost 30 seconds. Board member Marcie Estrellado finally made the motion, with Henry Browne seconding.

There was no additional discussion other than Dolle noting that ideas for Fisher submitted by residents should be passed along to interested parties. All board members voted to approve the motion to surplus, with the exception of James Whitely who was not in attendance.

According to a memo from Aiken to Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens, at the advice of the district’s attorney, now that the property is declared surplus the district will publish a notice of its desire to sell the building and request offers.

In other school board actions, members unanimously approved a pair of policy revisions regarding notification of threats of violence and harm along with risk management. Associate superintendent Sean Dotson told the board that with regards to the notification policy, the only change from a previous board hearing was in language detailing who can be notified, adding in that if a threat to health or safety made family notification necessary, the district could disclose student information from education records to “appropriate parties whose knowledge of the information is necessary.”

The risk management policy included changes in verbiage made from a previous board hearing. The board also heard but took no action on revisions to policy regarding student records and infectious diseases.

Finally the board agreed to hold two work sessions after its May 22 meeting at Cheney Middle School. The first work session at 5 p.m. will be to interview board student adviser candidates while the second at 6 p.m. will be to review information from Northwest Architectural Company and the district’s bond counsel concerning a potential renovation project of Cheney High School.

The regular board meeting begins at 4 p.m.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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