The Blaine County school board on Tuesday opted to leave the Community Campus—other than for its own meetings—to the rest of the community, shelving a proposal to move district operations into the Hailey facility.
The board’s decision, made during its regular September meeting, marked a rare moment when budgetary math matched public sentiment. Led by the building’s occupants, most commentary on the idea was roundly against using portions of the former high school for the administration, technology or maintenance departments. Any relocation would have likely displaced current tenants.
“From a financial perspective, it doesn’t make sense to move the district office over here,” District Finance Manager Bryan Fletcher said. “From a space perspective, it doesn’t make sense to move anybody here.”
Instead, Fletcher proposed saving up for a consolidated project down the road.
Consolidating other district operations inside would present only modest long-term benefits, according to Fletcher’s analysis. His model found that even under ideal conditions for recouping value, it would take about a decade to realize savings from moving the district offices and the technology department, which are now housed in separate buildings in Hailey.
The district never considered selling the Community Campus building. With its proximity to both Wood River and Silver Creek high schools, offloading it to another entity could be “dangerous” for students, Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said earlier year.
The vote ends a two-year look at all of the district’s inventory of non-student buildings, aimed at easing the BCSD’s tightening budget. With a replacement value of $19.3 million, the Community Campus is the biggest ticket on the list, according to an April cost analysis prepared by Fletcher, Holmes and Director of Buildings and Grounds Howard Royal.
Anchored by the Blaine County Recreation District and College of Southern Idaho, its seven tenants collectively pay $247,202 in rent each year. That’s below market rate, according to the district; in 2017-18, the BCSD paid $276,935 to cover the costs of the building, which also houses the Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater, VOICE II program and the Residential Construction and the Medical Technology academies.
Tenants may end up paying more soon, though. The board authorized district staff to renegotiate leases with smaller renters, and begin to revamp the deals with its “equity partners,” the BCRD, CSI and Footlight Dance.
Those three tenants are under contract through 2025 on what’s called a triple net lease. They pay a portion of the building’s costs proportional to the square footage they use.
“That may have made sense in the past, but we’re hoping to move to a more traditional lease,” Fletcher said.
Neither the board, nor district staff, mentioned what that might look like, or how much it would cost, though the implication is that rent could rise.
“This would be a way of addres-sing the shortfall,” Holmes said.
“We’re not talking dollars and cents right now,” Fletcher said. “Our goal is to find a win-win.”