Unique meeting set to discuss Staunton school division’s building needs
STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - It’s a bit unconventional, but in Staunton, the City Council, the School Board, and the Economic Development Authority are meeting this week. At issue -- a piece of property the city owns, the school wants, and the EDA said ‘no’ to.
And the property is slated for demolition in less than three weeks.
Staunton school buses have been parked at Public Works for 35 years now. “What we’ve been told is that Public Works needs to add another water tower out there and so the buses are in the way right now,” said Staunton Schools Superintendent Dr. Garett Smith.
The schools’ maintenance department has been located in the basement of Shelburne Middle School for 50 years. “These 50 and 35-year solutions were meant to be temporary solutions,” stated Smith. “It’s obviously not ideal for our employees or our students.”
Now, with the infusion of American Rescue Plan Act money, they’re ready to renovate parts of Shelburne. “If we can get the maintenance shop out of the basement, we can get started on Shelburne for the sake of our students, you know, to create more collaborative learning spaces,” said Smith.
The schools looked all over town for a place to consolidate operations into one facility, when they found Building 126 at Staunton Crossing. It’s the former operations and maintenance building for the old Western State. “That’s exactly what it was built for. That was its function,” said Smith.
In January, the school division asked for the city-owned property to be gifted to them as the city and schools had done in the past. “When the city needed a fire station on the west end of town, our school board simply voted to gift the land to the city, and they built a fire station there,” stated Smith.
Then they came back with an offer of $400,000, which was shot down by the Economic Development Authority. “The reasons that were shared with us had to do with unsightly buses being on the site might discourage deep pocket investors from investing in that property,” said Smith.
So the schools went to city council with the hope of leasing the property, and council responded with an invitation to meet -- the city, the schools, and the EDA. Smith says it’s a great idea. “It’s how you solve complex problems, you get all the parties to the table and we sit down and we talk through it,” said Smith.
The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 17th at 5:30 p.m. at the Irene Givens Administration Building at Montgomery Hall Park in Staunton.
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