District gets ready to sell three Boise schools
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District gets ready to sell three Boise schools

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The Boise School Board will consider a proposal Monday night to start selling three school properties, including Boise’s oldest elementary school. Cole Elementary School at Fairview and Cole, Franklin Elementary School at Franklin and Orchard and Mountain Cove Alternative High School near Fort Boise Downtown are all being sold as part of the $94 million construction and renovation plan that was passed by voters in March 2006.

Cole and Franklin elementaries are being combined into a new school, Morley Nelson Elementary, and Jackson and McKinley elementaries are being combined into a new school called Grace Jordan Elementary.

Those schools are due to be ready for students by the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. Students from Mountain Cove will attend an alternative high school that is being built near the district’s headquarters on Victory Road in West Boise.

Cole, built in 1902 and the district’s oldest school, is still the subject of litigation between the district and the Warm Springs Counseling Center.

Both parties argue that the heirs of Orric Cole, who gave the property to the district in 1888, intended them to have control of the land when it was no longer needed for a school. The land in question is just one or two acres of the 7.3-acre property.

Rory Jones, president of the School Board, said that despite the litigation, the district will start the process of selling the three properties by asking trustees for permission to seek a sales agent.

The goal is to have the three properties sold by early next summer, said Pete Bailey, the district’s director of operations.

The district hasn’t decided whether to sell Mountain Cove’s softball field, said Chris Wendrowski, the district’s facilities and operations administrator. The field might be used by Boise High or Boise State University.

The district is required by law to sell its properties for at least the appraised value.

The money it will glean from the sales is already committed to projects that are part of the 2006 bond.

Preservationists will be watching closely to see if they can make sure the properties don’t go to developers who plan to demolish the historic buildings.

Two buildings on the Mountain Cove property were part of the Fort Boise military installation and were built between 1900 and 1910.

Franklin was first built around 1905 and rebuilt in 1926, according to Preservation Idaho. It served grades K-12 until after World War II.

“Both Franklin Elementary and Cole play a really important part in the history of the development of the Bench,” said Dan Everhart, president of Preservation Idaho.

“The Bench wouldn’t have seen the pattern of development that it saw without these once-rural schools,” Everhart said.

“Now they’re just that last vestige that reminds us, in the middle of strip malls and fast-food restaurants, that the Bench also has its unique history.”

By Anne Wallace Allen, IdahoStatesman.com

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