The Cheney School District board of directors voted 4-0 at their regular meeting Aug. 7 in favor of an agreement with a local developer to purchase the Fisher Building. The object of some public debate, sometimes emotional, the Fisher Building has served as the district’s administrative headquarters for several decades after having started as the high school in 1929.
Cheney developer Steve Emtman has formed a limited liability company, Save the Fisher LLC, to purchase the building at a price tag of $950,000, which is within state mandated guidelines for selling public property. The building has received an appraisal value of $1,055,000 from the firm of appraisal firm Auble, Jolicouer & Gentry.
Once the purchase and sale documents are signed, Save the Fisher LLC has two days to deposit $10,000 in earnest money, and 180 days with which to secure the rest of the funding, which would be paid in three installments through February 2015. The company also has 180 days with which to conduct inspections, investigations and studies it deems desirable in order to ascertain the best use for the building.
The contract allows Save the Fisher LLC to extend both those 180-day timeframes by an additional 180 days. The contract also specifies that the purchaser intentions must be to renovate the existing building and not demolish it.
“We’re very pleased that Mr. Emtman is interested in exploring the possibilities for this beautiful building,” Cheney Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens told the board and about a dozen citizens in attendance.
Several of those citizens provided comment during a public hearing at the beginning of the meeting. Anne Fisher Hehn, whose father George Fisher is the building’s namesake, expressed concern for the class photos on display in the facility, asking that the district find room to display them somewhere or if they are to be archived that a professional archivist do the work.
Fisher also asked why director Rick Mount, who was not in attendance, had expressed reservations about the contract’s extension. At the board’s July 17 meeting Mount had voiced his uneasiness regarding several aspects of the contract, notably the 180 day extensions that would ostensibly take the building off the market for up to a year.
Mount, an attorney in private practice, noted his area of legal expertise wasn’t in real estate law, and wanted some provisions explained by someone who was. Assistant superintendent Sean Dotson told the board that he had spoken with Mount regarding those provisions following the previous meeting, and that Mount was satisfied with the response.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board had the final reading and passage of school policies regarding alternative learning and experience programs, regulation of dangerous weapons on school premises and notifications in cases of emergencies, all of which were revised. A new policy regarding community service was approved.
The board had a first reading of revised policies pertaining to interscholastic activities and students with telecommunication devices. Director James Whiteley questioned language in the telecommunications policy that allowed a school administrator or teacher to authorize use of such devices outside permitted times of before and after regular school day, class-passing times and at lunch.
Previous language only gave a school administrator such authorization, and Whiteley said the revised language makes the policy less consistent than previous and could set up situations of conflicts between teachers who allow the use and those who don’t.
“It’s not a right to have a cell phone,” Whiteley said. “It’s a privilege.”
High school principal Troy Heutt pointed out the revised policy reflects the reality of cell phone usage today. As an example, Heutt said some teachers have asked administrators to allow use of the device in their classes in order for students to take part in surveys pertinent to the instruction.
“Troy trusts the judgment of teachers to determine when (cellphone) use aligns with instruction,” Clemens said.
The next school board meeting is Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Fisher Building. Beginning with the Sept. 11 meeting, regular board meetings will take place in the Viking Room at Betz Elementary School, with the exception of periodic meetings at schools in the district, beginning with the Oct. 9 meeting at the new Snowdon Elementary School.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.