The state will sweeten the pot in its attempt to persuade the Salt Lake Board of Education to sell the soon-to-be-vacant South High School, but it won't be offering more cash.
Gaining the blessing of the State Board of Regents Friday, Neal Stowe, director of the State Division of Facilities, Construction and Management, will push again May 31 to get the board to sell the 57-year-old school for $1 million. The state wants the building to house a downtown campus for Salt Lake Community College.The newest twist in the proposed deal will be to grant tuition waivers up to a total of $200,000 to Salt Lake School District students concurrently enrolled in Salt Lake Community College classes.
This, in effect, will increase the purchase price to the equivalent of $1.2 million because it would free up district money spent on its students taking college-credit courses while still in high school, he said.
"We're trying to respond to the interest of the school district. We want it (South), but we don't have any more dollars. If they want more, I'll have to say `sorry,' " Stowe said after the regents voted unanimously to back his plan.
Stowe indicated that the state is also willing to allow the school district to continue using the building's pool and other facilities at no cost except its share of the operating expenses. That suggestion was made by the out-of-state arbitrator who recommended that the district sell South for the value of the land - $1 million. The district has talked about a $5 million price tag.
Stowe said he met with the board members and district officials May 23, but no agreement could be reached. The board is scheduled to discuss the possible sale June 1.
The board needs a two-thirds majority, or 5-2 vote, to sell property, and school district sources have indicated that the board is split and does not have the necessary votes for a sale.
If the school board fails to make a decision soon, the state will be forced to go back to its original plan - construction of additions to the community college's Business Building and Skills Center, Stowe said. The state official said that to meet the deadline for using the $11 million in appropriations for those facilities, construction must begin within two months.
If South is purchased for $1 million, the state plans to use the other portion of the appropriations to do the extensive remodeling necessary to bring the building up to the standards required for the community college.