SA looks at breaking up property

Authored by Manda Arnold on Jul 9, 2014

The South Adams School Board discussed the possibility of selling the former elementary school property in pieces during Tuesday evening’s school board meeting.
The school’s real estate broker, Dave Stemen, approached superintendent Scott Litwiller about the possibility during a meeting discussing whether any serious inquiries to the property had been made. Stemen stated that there has been some interest but that most potential buyers are not interested in the entire 4.8 acres. Litwiller spoke with Berne’s building and planning director Shannon Smitley about what the zoning for the property would allow.
Currently, the property is zoned C1P (planned commercial) because it is over four acres, which does not allow the property to be sold in smaller portions. The school has the option of asking the Planning Commission to rezone the property or asking the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to grant the school a variance. Smitley recommended asking for a variance. He stated that he believed if the school received a serious offer from a potential buyer for a smaller portion of the property, the BZA would try to work with the school board and give a variance careful consideration.
After some discussion, the board approved asking for a variance under the condition that a viable purchase offer has been signed with earnest money. Litwiller also stated that he had spoken with Stemen about the possibility of negotiating any cost incurred on the part of the school in getting the variance into the cost of the property.
Litwiller updated the board on the proposed manufacturing academy. He received word yesterday that the school did not receive the Innovation Grant. The school along with Area 18 submitted the grant with the Northeast Indiana region. The school’s portion would be approximately $400,000. This money would have mainly gone towards purchasing equipment and instructor salary. It would not have been used for a building. Litwiller stated that the next round of Innovation Grants are getting ready to be submitted and that the school plans on applying again. He also stated that he was considering applying strictly with Area 18 or even as an individual school and not with the region as a whole.
On a positive note, business members from the Adams Wells Manufacturing Alliance (AWMA) have supplied the necessary funding of $6,000 to start the architectural analysis of the manufacturing academy. Ideally, the academy would be a separate building or an attached addition to the precision machining classroom/lab which would house three manufacturing programs – precision machining, welding, and industrial maintenance. It would be a shared program of Area 18 open to high school students from Adams, Wells, and Jay counties as well as adult education classes in the evenings. Litwiller also informed the board that he has been asked to join the steering committee for the AWMA.
Finally, the topic of social media was once again addressed. The board had directed Litwiller to develop a vision for social media at South Adams Schools that is in line with the school’s mission, objectives, and goals. To that end, Litwiller stated that he has attended two conferences regarding the use of social media as an outreach for communication and marketing. He, along with school board member Landon Patterson, attended a conference in Indy on Tuesday. Things they learned at the conference were that it is going to take time to open up social media in the school and that all employees of the school must remember to maintain a professional relationship with students and parents. It was also emphasized that social media within the school does not necessarily have to be a negative thing and that it can be used to teach students to be responsible digital citizens. They also stated that there are tools out there that allow information to be published on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter without allowing students to access their personal accounts. There is also the option of using sites like Facebook as a one-way communication tool. It can be used to allow people to see what is going on at the school.
“It’s a great way to get information out there. You can’t get too much information out as long as it’s good information,” stated Patterson.

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