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Brainerd School Board: Hawking homes

The Brainerd School Board Monday night approved a plan to sell three homes the school district owns which sit across the street from Brainerd High School.

An overhead view of the block of property across South Fifth Street from Brainerd High School. The three buildings on school district-owned property are outlined in blue.
An overhead view of the block of property across South Fifth Street from Brainerd High School. The three buildings on school district-owned property are outlined in blue.

The Brainerd School Board Monday night approved a plan to sell three homes the school district owns which sit across the street from Brainerd High School.

The block in question is bordered by South Fifth and South Sixth streets and by Quince and Pine streets. The district currently owns eight lots of property on the block, with all eight of the lots adjoining. Homes sit on three of those eight lots.

The board approved a public bid process to sell those three homes and have them moved from the lots they sit on. The district will call for sealed bids in early November and open the bids around mid-December, said Steve Lund, director of business services. Anyone interested in purchasing the homes must move them from their current locations.

During the bidding process, there will be two inspection periods to allow people to come in and see the homes before bidding on them, Lund said. The district is selling the homes as-is, he said, so inspections allow people to assess the homes before buying them.

"We want people to come and take a very good look for themselves and see what they would potentially be looking at putting a bid in for," Lund said.

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Once purchased, the homes must be moved by mid-July, which gives the district time to remove any remaining debris and bring the lot to grade and seed with grass, Lund said.

Before demolishing the properties, the district should see if there's a market value for them, Lund said. The homes are in a variety of styles and in varying conditions, he said, and some of the homes might be harder to move than others.

The district won't set a minimum offer for each home, Lund said, and a bidder can bid on an individual home and doesn't have to bid on all three at once. If a bidder does submit a low offer, it still helps the district avoid demolition costs, he said, while providing some value to the community.

The district has been working with local attorney Brad Person in developing the sealed bid process and proposed terms of any potential sales, Lund said. Bidders will be required to submit a refundable earnest money deposit for $1,500 along with their bid.

If a public bid process shows no interest in the homes, the district would move forward with demolition of the structures in the summer of 2017.

Spurring action

The district is moving the homes because the city of Brainerd issued the district an improvement order for the house at 714 South Sixth St., Lund said. The district agrees with the order, Lund said, and has been delaying the improvements because of the district's long-range facilities plans.

The district doesn't see the improvements as a wise investment of resources, Lund said, because in the future, those properties aren't likely to be residential. Estimates for painting and construction repairs are nearly $10,000, he said.

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"We have to look at it through a broader and much longer-term lens," Lund said.

The school district has acquired properties on this block in recent years as they have become available, Lund said. There are no immediate plans for the block, he said, but it's valuable if the district wants to reinvest in the high school in the future. The block is also south of where Lincoln Education Center is located.

The district acquired 711 South Fifth St. in October 2013. The property includes a five-bedroom, two-bathroom story-and-a-half home with a two-car detached garage. The home and garage are in average condition, Lund reported, but have been vacant for about five years.

The district acquired 510 Pine St. in April 2016. The property includes a story-and-a-half home with a single car garage. The structures are in average to below-average condition, Lund said, and the most recent renters vacated the home in June.

The district acquired 714 South Sixth St. in December 1988. The property includes an older two-story home. While the district used the home for some of community education offices in the past, Lund said, it has been occupied by New Pathways for the past 10 years.

The current lease agreement with New Pathways expires on March 31, 2017. The district has provided them notice of intent not to renew and the organization has been actively seeking a new location in the community, Lund said.

Open meeting?

During the public forum portion of the meeting, school board candidate Jeff Czeczok addressed the board about what he said was the board's recent violation of the open meeting law.

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On Sept. 27, the district's paraprofessional union hosted a forum for the five candidates for three open seats on the board. Czeczok claimed the board violated open meeting at the forum, as a quorum of the school board was present for a meeting the public wasn't notified of.

Monday night, Czeczok asked the board to adjourn to a Thursday school board candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Brainerd Lakes to avoid another misstep with the open meeting law. The Brainerd City Council often will adjourn to an upcoming event where a quorum of council members could be present, he said.

The board did not adjourn to the Thursday forum at the conclusion of Monday night's meeting, a detail Czeczok discussed with board chair Tom Haglin after the meeting.

It's up to the board members to police themselves and to speak up when they think an open meeting violation could or does occur, Czeczok said.

"It's up to each of you to recognize these open meeting laws and speak out when it occurs or perhaps may occur," Czeczok said.

Czeczok also addressed a comment made at the Sept. 27 forum. At the forum, one candidate said they would double the paraprofessional salaries if the funding was there, he said. A statement like that is pandering, he said, and not appropriate, especially when the taxpayers are not present.

"When statements like that are made without objection, somebody needs to say, 'Just a minute, we have to be careful what we say,'" Czeczok said.

Board member Chris Robinson was absent Monday night.

In other business, the board:

Approved a sale listing for the 2016-17 Brainerd High School trades home. The district will list the home's sale price at $57,500. The estimated costs to build the home total approximately $55,500. Actual construction expenses vary slightly each year. For the past five years, the district has listed and sold the home with Brad Wadsten of Edina Realty. Wadsten donates his listing agent commissions back to the district.

Recognized 2016 homecoming king and queen Travis Jensen and Katie Jobe, along with the rest of the homecoming court.

Recognized Garfield, Harrison and Lowell elementary schools for achieving 2016 Reward School status, from the Minnesota Department of Education. Reward schools are recognized for their performance in the areas of proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates.

Recognized BHS football coach Ron Stolski for his induction into the Minnesota State Coaches Association Hall of Fame Saturday. Stolski is in his 55th year of coaching and 42nd year of coaching in Brainerd. He is the longest tenured head coach in Minnesota State High School League history.

Approved the hiring of Adam Galles, career technical education teacher at Brainerd High School, effective Aug. 29.

Accepted donations for the month of October totaling $45,256. The donations also included the donation of a bus and driver from Reichert Bus Company for the BHS homecoming parade.

Approved the following updated policies, per Minnesota School Board Association updates: 101-Legal Status of the School Board, 102-Equal Educational Opportunity, 203-Operation of the School Board, 206-Public Participation in School Board Meetings/Complaints about Persons at School Board Meetings & Data Privacy Considerations, 207-Public Hearings, 208-Development, Adoption, and Implementation of Policies, 301-School District Administration, 302-Superintendent.

Approved the following non-teaching employee resignations: Paul Kath, educational assistant at Garfield Elementary School, resignation effective Sept. 30; Benjamin Tan, custodian at Forestview Middle School, retirement effective Jan. 1; Delia Tan, educational assistant at Brainerd Learning Center, retirement effective Jan. 1; Kala Henkensiefken, transportation coordinator, termination effective Sept. 19.

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