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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

For the first time, Pinellas poised to sell former school to a charter



Southside Fundamental Middle School closed in 2009, but as any kid who's thrown a quarter into a fountain before can tell you, schools don't just vanish. Pinellas County Schools has been paying $8,600 each year in electric and phone costs, monthly water mater changes, monitoring for vandalism, the boarding up of broken windows, and graffiti removal.

Now, the school system appears ready to do something they've never done before: sell a former school site to a charter school.

School board documents indicate that Pinellas has reached a deal with University Preparatory Academies, Inc. for $1.1 million. (Details of the new charter school in this Times story.)

"The selling of the property will eliminate ongoing maintenance expenses, potential demolition cost and liability exposure. It is in the best interest of the public to sell this unused property and use the proceeds to support on-going educational efforts of the school board," Superintendent Michael Grego writes in a memo to the school board.

The school board had already approved University Prep's crews to enter Southside Fundamental and begin an environmental impact study, so the sale becoming final isn't too surprising.

Still, other charters with interest in buying school system properties have faltered before. "In one instance a charter school's application had not been approved yet. In another instance, the school district had other plans for the property sought," schools spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said in an email last month.

Potential property sales are first processed through the school system's real estate department, then taken to the superintendent and school board.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 12:23pm]


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