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Let’s move forward on Helen Baker sale

We are sensing some hesitancy on the part of a couple of Glencoe-Silver Lake School Board members regarding the potential sale of the former Helen Baker Elementary building, and we are wondering why.
Although a proposed purchase agreement has the city buying the building for a mere dollar — not much of a profit for the school district — the proposal, so far, is the only on the table and should be followed up upon.
The city of Glencoe has put considerable effort into trying to find partners or investors to re-purpose the building. By rights, that responsibility should have fallen on the shoulders of the school district’s administration and board. However, knowing those entities had enough on their plates with the construction of the new additions, the city’s economic development committee was gracious enough to step up and grab the baton that was passed to it.
At the Monday night School Board meeting, Board Chair Clark Christianson noted that the project, if it proceeds as proposed, would create additional housing opportunities for the community. Hopefully, that housing will attract families with kids, and that will be of benefit to the school district.
And it would be well to remember that the building bond for the new additions did not include any monies for demolishing the Helen Baker building. Under this proposal, the school district could avoid the cost of demolishment or maintaining a vacant building, and potentially attract more students to the district.
This proposal would also put the property on the tax rolls, which would benefit not only the school district, but the city, county and other taxing authorities as well.
And while we hate to belabor any point, it is the only offer on the table right now.
That is why we are concerned about the hesitancy on the part of a couple of school board members.
One asked about the costs associated with maintaining the empty building. But what was particularly concerning to us is that one asked if it would be possible to close a work session to discuss the issue with city officials. As always, when someone asks if a meeting can be closed, we are always compelled to ask, “Why? What is there to hide?”
Our country was founded on the premise of a free and open government. Our view has always been that in our representative government, our representatives serve the public, and are subject to the scrutiny of that public.
We are grateful that the board decided to hold the work session, because it will make sure all the parties are on the same page at the same time. And we’re glad that it will be open to the public, because that building belongs to all of us in the school district, and we have the right to know what will be done with it.