District looks to sell Hunt land

FAIRMONT– The Fairmont Area School Board on Tuesday discussed the consideration of the Hunt Farm sale. Board Member Mike Edman shared that the board has talked about opportunities to sell the land both in closed and open sessions and some operations committee meetings over the last half year.

“I’m going to make a motion that the board enter into a resolution authorizing the sale of the property,” Edman said.

He read the resolution, which included details such as the land’s location near Interstate 90 and Bixby Road, which the district took possession of in 1990 via a donation form the Hunt family and has used a portion of the land for school purposes but has leased the majority of the property for agricultural purposes.

The resolution also stated the the district will be keeping a portion of the property but selling the remainder which is not needed for school purposes.

Edman said that any final agreement of the sale will be brought back to the board for approval and following the sale of the property, district administration can use the proceeds form the sale consistent with the terms of the Hunt’s donation.

The motion was seconded by Board Member Dan Brookens.

Board Member Julie Laue said she has been against the sale from the moment she heard it was a consideration and said she is still against it because she believes the board is selling property that was graciously given to the district.

“The amount of due diligence that the board and staff have put into this is substantial… It’s a very sellable piece of land and we’re keeping a substantial portion for educational purposes… which I think is important,” Edman said.

He said the reality is the revenue received from it is almost 2 percent and the amount from a sale could be almost double or triple.

Board Member Nicole Green noted that when the Hunts made the donation, it was done so in an unrestrictive way stating that the income could be used for lease or sale of the property.

Board Member Jen Harris admitted that she was initially against the sale, but once she learned of the investment opportunities, she changed her mind and now believes it will be a good thing. Board Member Mari Meyeran agreed with what Harris said.

In a roll call vote, the motion passed 5-1 with Laue opposed.

The board also heard a report from Activities Director, Mat Mahoney, who spoke about the fall activity wrap-up and launch of winter activities.

“Overall it was a pretty good fall… we had a ton of kids out for a fall activity, about 438 students and that’s just activities, not fine arts,” Mahoney said.

He said that girls volleyball alone had 105 students out for it.

As for fine arts, Mahoney said that about 60 percent of students are in band, choir or orchestra. He noted that other fine arts like debate and mock trial are both going well.

Looking forward to the winter, Mahoney said the planning schedule and sign ups are about 80 percent done and most of the sports have started their practices.

Mahoney also spoke some about the district’s new streaming service, Hudl. He noted that the football program has been using aspects of the service since about 2011 and some other sports have used it at one point as well.

“We’re kind of coming back full-steam here,” Mahoney said.

He demonstrated how an app for the service works on a cell phone.

“For what we’re getting, it’s really cool. We’re still working out a few bugs… we’re doing our best because we want to do it right so we’re looking at getting tri-pods and hot spots,” Mahoney said.

In general updates, Mahoney said he’s looking at grants for some AEDs (automated external defibrillator). He said the goal is to get one with every sport and with every coach.

Superintendent Andy Traetow acknowledged that while Mahoney has been in the role of Activities Director for a decade, he’s just been doing it full-time for the past year. He asked how transition has gone.

“I love it. It’s been really good. In the AD world it’s hectic; you’re taking phone calls, emails, text messages, planning schedules and dealing with bus drivers, officials, coaches, parents, student athletes and administrators. There’s a lot of flying bullets,” Mahoney said.

However, he said in not having to teach gym class, as he previously did, he now has more time to focus on AD work and “get ahead of the game.”

In his report to the board, Traetow said that after a full year after the initial occupancy of the new vocational (CTE) building, they’re still going through final punch list items.

He also mentioned some other exterior lighting projects the district is working on, as well as the cardinal field house project.

In other news:

— The board heard from high school social studies teacher, Brian Wille, who spoke about an 8th grade leadership course.

— The board heard from associate principal, Brooke Schultz about the 7th grade Cardinals Buddies program.

— Traetow proclaimed this week, Nov. 13-17 as American Education Week.

— The board accepted a grant in the amount of $12,500 from Valero for the robotics program.

— The board approved adopting a new policy on online instruction and two policy revisions on student transportation safety and crisis management.

— The board accepted the resignation of high school paraprofessional Courtney Williams.


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