The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Waitsburg Board Tables Property Sale Discussion

Potential sale of District House and other properties, got negative public response


March 22, 2018

WAITSBURG – At their regular March meeting, the Waitsburg School Board opted to table discussions about the possible sale of several school properties, including the District House located next to Preston Hall. Discussions were set aside due to a strong initial negative response from some community members.

Late last year, the District began evaluating the possible sale of two parcels of land on Coppei Avenue, along with the District House. In January, the board voted to have the properties appraised and requested that Maintenance Supervisor Colter Mohney check into the cost of surveying the properties.

At the last week’s meeting, District Superintendent Jon Mishra shared that the appraisal on the District House returned with a value of $320,000 and the Coppei properties were valued at $23,000 each.

Mohney reported that the cost for Anderson-Perry to survey and short plat the District House, to separate the property from the District property, would be approximately $4,000-$5,000. He said that surveying the two Coppei properties, along with the remaining surveying that needs completed at the athletic field would be approximately $5,000.

The board questioned whether or not the athletic field surveying was already included in the project bid costs for the field house, and Mohney agreed to look into that.

The Coppei properties were considered for sale because they are unused. Discussions regarding the sale of the District House were initiated because of the costs of maintenance and upkeep to the district and the fact that selling the home would put it back on the tax rolls.

The house has traditionally been used by school staff and is currently occupied by high school principal and athletic director Stephanie Wooderchak and her husband. At the February board meeting, school staff members in attendance expressed concern that sale of the property could limit the ability of the District to draw quality staff, since acceptable housing is not always available in Waitsburg.

Earlier this year, the board agreed to seek community input regarding the house sale and a survey questionnaire was listed on the school district website.

The questionnaire listed costs for maintenance and upkeep of the home and one question; whether or not respondents were in favor of keeping or selling the home. It did not mention that Wooderchak’s administrative duties at Preston Hall and as Athletic Director are compensated by free rent and utilities and would presumably need to be paid from the District budget if the house was sold.

Last week, Superintendent Jon Mishra said that results of the survey came in at about 55% of respondents in favor of selling the District House.

However, school board chair Ross Hamann commented that he had received strong feedback opposing the sale from community members, such as Lions Club members, who did not see the school survey.

Hamann said those he spoke with understood that maintaining the house comes with occasional big expenses such as roof repairs and were okay with that.

“They felt that the house is an asset there for times when it is difficult for staff and administration to find adequate housing and we would regret not having that option. They felt that was more valuable,” he said.

The board agreed to hold off on an any decisions regarding surveying or property sales and “revisit it another time.”


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