Just when you thought South High's fate was all settled, questions pop up again.
Last week, Sen. Stephen J. Rees, R-Salt Lake, questioned the legality of the state's purchase of the old high school, centering his concern on whether the purchase violated the legislative intent of the bonding bill. He wanted the issue discussed in this week's special session.It was. Legislators argued about it in the Senate caucus, but it never made it to the Senate floor before the Legislature adjourned early Wednesday.
Hours later, the high school was at the center of another storm. Several state and Salt Lake Community College officials told the Deseret News that the school district has been removing fixtures from the building. The college plans to convert the school into a downtown campus.
"To me, when you sell property you can take out things that are movable but not things that are attached," said one college official.
He said the computer that runs the lighting console in the school auditorium and other sound equipment from the control booth had been removed. Additionally, some book shelves had been unscrewed from the walls and other items had been removed.
"It's really discouraging to go in there and see what's been removed," he said.
State and college officials complained to the school district Wednesday morning.
Later in the day, Superintendent John W. Bennion put a hold on the removal of any equipment or fixtures from South until at least Monday when Gary Harmer, school district business administrator who negotiated the sale, returns from vacation, reported Carl Child, Salt Lake School District director of buildings and grounds.
"There have been some problems over what is defined as a fixture and what is movable," Child said.
Child said he couldn't speak for Harmer or about the details of negotiations. However, he said, the school district's policy has basically been that because the out-of-state arbitrator discounted the building's worth and recommended that it be sold for $1 million - the value of the land only - that the district has every right to salvage readily available assets from the building.
When asked about what has been removed, Child replied, "There is nothing that could not be replaced readily, if that is necessary."
After months of negotiations, the Salt Lake Board of Education and state Board of Regents agreed to the purchase in June. The actual contract, however, has not been signed yet.