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Committee formed on old school issue

| May 12, 2005 12:00 AM

By STEVE KADEL Western News Reporter

The Libby School Board has formed a committee to research details of selling the old high school.

Trustees Jim England, Kate Huntsberger and Melanie Wood volunteered during Tuesday's work session to be members of the committee.

They will look into such things as how to put out bids, what codes or covenants might affect the building, and ways to have the structure and land appraised.

"We want to look at the legalities of the school district selling the property," England said.

Voters authorized the district to make the sale during an advisory vote in the May 3 school election. Slightly more than 70 percent of the 899 people who voted supported selling.

The committee will report monthly to the full school board. Besides information the three trustees glean on their own, they said they welcome input from the public.

The group's first meeting was scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. at the central administration building, 724 Louisiana Ave. Each of the sessions will be open to the public.

England noted that if bids are sought, prices that are offered won't be the only factor in choosing a buyer. He said the board also must weigh how the property's future use would affect the community.

Superintendent Kirby Maki agreed with that approach.

"I would be concerned about what occurs next door," he said, referring to the administration building's proximity. "If it were something that detracts from the area, we would be concerned about our property."

As for appraising the property's value, trustee Jerry Frament suggested comparing the 1.7-acre parcel with land of similar size in the vicinity.

The building itself is more difficult, members noted in the past, because there are no similar buildings in town.

In other business during the work session, Maki updated board members about next year's budget. He said the funding package approved by the Legislature provides a slight surprise.

"We are receiving more money than I anticipated," Maki said.

It means the district will be able to hire replacements for retiring teachers, and consider a raise in staff salaries. Money also will be available for maintenance projects at each of the school buildings this summer, he said.

During an agenda meeting after the work session, two school board members were sworn in for three-year terms. Huntsberger and Teri Kelly were elected May 3 over challenger Duaine Schultz.

Lincoln County Superintendent of Schools Ron Higgins administered the oath of office. Later, the board voted to retain Kelly as chairwoman and English as vice chairman.