School District considers purchasing town property

Dolores School District officials have their eyes on an abandoned lot in Dolores that is owned by the town.

Officials toured the lot on Thursday, located on the corner of Hillside Avenue and 14th Street, and discussed a possible purchase on Tuesday during the Dolores School District Board of Education meeting. The board stopped short of agreeing to purchase the property for an appraised value of $40,000.

The 10,000-square-foot lot was the Dolores Town Maintenance facility before the town built a new maintenance facility at the other end of town.

Dolores School District Superintendent Scott Cooper said the purchase of the property would be a great addition to the campus at a time when and extra lot will be needed.

“We could utilize it during the construction period,” Cooper told the board of education on Tuesday.

In addition, the school could move the maintenance yard to the lot when the construction phase is over.

School Board President Allan Thayer seemed receptive to the idea.

“To me, the price is right,” he said.

Dolores Elementary School Principal Sherri Maxwell was also supportive of the idea.

During a previous construction phase at the school, she said, it was difficult to find places to store all the construction equipment.

The additional lot would help with that problem, and allow the maintenance facility to move off the main campus and across the street at a later time, Cooper said.

Board member Jon Kelly asked Business Manager Karen Andrews to look at the numbers and get back to the board at the Dec. 18 meeting.

Board member Linnea Vass was concerned that the shed on the lot may not be structurally sound and asked to tour the property before she voted to buy it.

She reportedly toured the lot on Thursday.

Also Tuesday, Food Service Director Chuck Soukup gave a presentation to the board about his program. He talked about how the percentage of free and reduced lunches served in Dolores went up a little to around 38.4 percent.

He also talked about the rising prices in food costs, which make it difficult to keep lunch prices low.

Soukup also mentioned that the ala cart menu may start to shrink.

“We are probably the only district around that I know of that sells candy bars,” he said.

Eliminating junk food is a new federal mandate and Soukup added that over the next ten years, food is going to improve to meet the new federal guidelines.

Soukup also said that the greenhouse and gardens at the school are still evolving. They don’t produce enough to feed the entire student body, but the cafeteria has offered tastings of vegetables from the garden.

Also Tuesday, Cooper updated the board on the BEST grant construction time line and said that next week the district will begin interviewing an owner’s representative. After that is done, there will be more hiring and design work so that the district can be ready to break ground as soon as school lets out for summer break.

Dolores High School/Middle School Principal Brandon Thurston asked the board to discuss paying for college courses for some high school students. Currently, if a student is able and can’t find a class they may need at Dolores, the district will pay for that person to take that class at a local college.

Thurston said it wasn’t clear if a student can take classes at the college level even if they had met all their graduation requirements.

“Do we want to define what we are willing to pay for?” Thurston asked. “Will we pay for a voice class for instance?”

Board members said they would revisit this issue at the next meeting, Dec. 18.