By Sue Moore
The future of the Early Elementary school building at 300 E. Cass Street in Schoolcraft has been in doubt for nearly a year since its closing in the fall of 2016. The school board took the first steps to sell it through a closed-bid process by the first of September.
It was built in the 1930s by the WPA and has served as a Schoolcraft landmark ever since. Lots of Schoolcraft residents have fond memories of their years of attendance when it housed the school district’s K-12 classes.
Although several entities have approached Superintendent Rusty Stitt about purchasing the building, he told the board, he recommended a bidding process, perhaps with the help of a local real estate broker and an attorney. The deadline for submitting bids will be September 1 with the bid opening set for that day.
Stitt was peppered with questions on the potential sale. Board members didn’t want the building to be offered to any other type of school that would compete with the community school system. This would include a charter school, a religion-based private school or even a pre-school. A deed restriction clause might be a possibility to assure that it wouldn’t be sold to a competitor institution, Stitt said.
Right now, the building is being used for storage. Trustee Jennifer Gottschalk wanted to ensure the school would not sell the contents. “We will get whatever we can removed from the building and even sell some of the equipment that we don’t need for future classrooms,” Stitt emphasized.
Gottschalk was also concerned about setting a minimum bid or whether the board would need to take the minimum bid. Stitt promised to work out these details with the broker and attorney before putting out a bid package.
Just as important to the discussion of selling the early elementary building was a request from the village of Schoolcraft for a 53-foot easement on the east side of the school property to service the village water system’s well head on Cass Street. Trustee Jason Walther wanted to be sure the board wouldn’t be locking in the future owner of the school property with an easement that would tie the developer’s hands. “We are making a decision for this future owner by our action to grant the easement.” It was explained that a parking lot could be constructed on an easement and that the village would be responsible to pay attorney fees for a survey before any contracts were signed.
Trustees Rochholz and Mastenbrook recused themselves from the vote to approve the easement with the village. Each serves on the village council as well as the school board.
Stitt recommended waiting on another request from the village to sell property for a second well head.