Carson City School Superintendent Richard Stokes provided a presentation to the district Board of Trustees on Tuesday to reconsider the former Capital Christian Church property on Snyder Avenue for purchase. The board delayed action on negotiations in May 2020 expressing concerns about the budget at the time as well as the appraisal price, which valued the 10-acre property lower than expected. The seller originally asked for $5.67 million on the five-building site. Stokes said the property currently is valued at $4.19 million. It also showed no significant environmental concerns after the district received results from phase one and phase two studies almost two years ago. The analyses revealed the property previously was used as a dump in the 1940s and stored hazardous materials that formerly surpassed the Environmental Protection Agency’s remediation goal. Mitigation measures and assessments long have since demonstrated the property is safe for use. In September 2019, the district had formed a committee to inspect the property. Members took a tour to research its viability and provide feedback, and local architects and engineers gave their input about the feasibility about transforming the former church site into an elementary or middle school as discussed at the time to address issues of growth in Carson City. Conversations from the resulting meetings generally were positive, with members expressing leanings about the worship facility’s potential to be opened to the public for revenue and little work or few upgrades needed make it ready for performances. On Tuesday, Stokes reported land values of the property are skyrocketing. The district is preparing to break ground Monday at Eagle Valley Middle School on an expansion project. Construction on the campus, previously announced by director of operation services Mark Korinek at the board’s May 25 meeting, will be approximately 23,000 square feet in size and will add 10 classrooms, two STEM labs, office and workroom areas and a remodel of the site’s computer lab, among other work. The total cost of construction will be about $14 million. Stokes said there is a significant difference between “building new versus remodeling a potential property.” The discussion on Snyder was to gain the board’s direction on pursuing the site further as it remains available. At this time, whether a new appraisal is needed is unknown given any recent changes in the local market, Stokes said. Board members varied in their outlook on the Snyder property and opinions on whether to proceed, though they generally agreed it was important to consider. President Joe Cacioppo reminded the board during its last several conversations more than a year ago that timing, expense and outcomes were among its priorities. Trustee Richard Varner alluded to his past hesitation on the purchase since he said the function of the property, either as a school or as a potential performing arts center, still was unclear at this point. Board members who were in favor of the property agreed it would be difficult at this time to identify other sites in Carson City as large and in as pristine condition as Snyder. “I understand your concerns and the concerns of' ‘We don’t know what it’ll be at this time,’” Trustee Laurel Crossman said, adding she would like to continue pursuing it further. “One of the large buildings is in excellent condition and could be used by the district almost immediately for almost all our performance arts, concerts and events our schools participate in. I thought it could be for our proms rather than being in the gyms. They close for almost a week (just to accommodate those special events).” Trustee Lupe Ramirez pointed out that some families have begun making different choices about their children’s education. This could impact the district’s future capital investments, she added. “With the pandemic changing the way that we are offering education to our children, many of (these families) are going online now, and my thought is will we really have the need to have a physical facility to be able to utilize it?” Ramirez said. “I see many families are choosing online for their children. So will we have a need for this building?” The item was for discussion only. Cacioppo asked Stokes to return the item to the board after conducting further research on the item about overall cost for maintenance on “mothballing” what’s currently on site to prevent deterioration and requirements from the city, saying taxes on a $4 million purchase would be hefty. Wilke-McCulloch wanted to know about the financials on daily upkeep. Stokes and Cacioppo also credited working with John Uhart, real estate agent representing the district in the process. Also during Tuesday’s school board meeting, parents, students and community members gave public comment regarding the district’s recent discussion and treatment of the concept of equity and critical race theory. The topic was raised during a discussion during the school district’s quarterly May 4 professional learning community meeting while addressing its strategic plan, and the word “equity” was used in Christopher Rufo’s document “Critical Race Theory.” During his superintendent’s report earlier in the meeting, Stokes addressed the system of “checks and balances” the district is required to follow as per the Nevada Department of Education. “I want it to be known by this group and by our community as a whole that critical race theory and the 1619 Project are not approved to be taught in our classrooms,” Stokes said. Comments also addressed the use of masks, which will be required through summer school, and Cacioppo said staff members are fulfilling their contractual responsibilities to wear while students are present. According to a news release published by the district in May, “Face coverings must be worn on all school campuses and sites, on school buses and during school-associated activities by all students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors.” The release continues the plan would be revisited during the summer with changes to be made before the start of the 2021-22 school year. Carson City Sheriff’s Office Lt. Daniel Gonzales and his wife Meliah Gonzales, district court bailiff, also made a presentation on the annual Holiday with a Hero program, sharing new goals for the program that started in 2004. Meliah Gonzales said the program first served 50 students in 2005 and it now serves 300 students per year and seeks to spend $100 per student at Christmas time, having disbursed $294,000 total. The program hosts various events such as the Holiday Crawl or Feast with a Hero and opportunities to donate, and the website is www.holidaywithahero.com.
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