Second thoughts on selling Harris TIPS?
Cornerstone Bible Church of St. Petersburg has made the Pinellas County school board an offer to buy its recently closed Harris TIPS school for teen parents. According to a contract up for school board vote tomorrow, the church is willing to pay $425,000 for the facility, which was closed for budgetary reasons last year.
But word this afternoon from Michael Bessette, associate superintendent of facilities and operations, is that superintendent John Stewart is planning to remove the item from the agenda.
That's probably because some board members at an April 17 workshop questioned whether it might be a useful space for a district-run program such as the Lew Williams Project, an educational initiative in the planning stages that aims to help disadvantaged preschool students.
"In general," board member Peggy O'Shea said at the time, mentioning the Lew Williams Project by name, "when it comes to disposing of property, the one thing I want to make sure we're doing is that we have a long range plan in place of what potential uses we may have for these properties in the future."
Bessette said this afternoon that his office will take one more comprehensive look at all of its surplus properties to assess how they may fit with the district's long-range educational plans, such as the Lew Williams Project, which was named for a sitting board member who died suddenly late last year.
Business leaders with the Pinellas Education Foundation recently recommended in its "Savings for Classrooms" report that the district sell off much of its surplus property so that it isn't in the business of maintaining vacant and disintegrating buildings.
Board members have been grappling with the issue for some time now, trying to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of selling in a poor sellers' market.
"We need to use them quickly," Bessette said Monday, "or dispose of them."