The School District of Rhinelander Board of Education will hold a special meeting Monday evening to discuss the possible purchase of the St. Joseph's Church and School building from the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church.
SDR superintendent Kelli Jacobi said she does not anticipate a final decision being made at the meeting, which will start at 6 p.m. in the Superior Diesel Advanced Learning Center at Rhinelander High School.
Jacobi had first brought the idea of purchasing the former church and school property to the district's capital projects ad hoc committee in late February as a way to solve an overcrowding problem at the elementary schools. She told the committee that SDR could purchase the property from the diocese for about $649,000, and that the district could use the extra $500,000 in extra state aid it is due to receive during the 2017-18 and 18-19 school years to pay for the purchase.
She told the committee that while she and school board president Ron Counter had toured the facility over Christmas break, no formal inspection or talks have begun. The committee directed Jacobi to contact area realtors and lawyers who specialize in real estate for estimates on how much they would charge to handle such a deal as well as ask the church if they have any recent inspections of the property it would be willing to share.
Jacobi said she will have this information ready at Monday's meeting.
"I will be presenting all the information that they asked for, and I believe that they will be giving me a directive on what they want next," Jacobi said.
She said that while the meeting is open to the public, she thinks the board will wait until it is further into the process before seeking public comments.
"We will have public meetings, like community meetings, once we figure out if we're even interested," she said.
At last month's committee meeting, it was pointed out that Pelican and Crescent Elementary Schools are near capacity and that a proposal to add two classrooms to Crescent has been estimated to cost $1.2 million. If SDR were to purchase the St. Joseph property, all 4K classes and the early childhood center could be relocated there, freeing up room in the elementary schools. A day care center could also be located on the property, along with the district offices.
The committee noted that there may be objections from area residents since the district sold elementary buildings several years ago, but that additional taxes to cover the cost to keep those buildings were turned down by voters at referendum.
Counter said the process to discuss the possible purchase must be done in public and be open and transparent because several members of the school board are members of the Nativity parish.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce