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School Board reviews draft lease proposed for Hunter Field and gym at OKGES

School Board wants ability to terminate
The King George School Board last week reviewed a draft lease for Hunter Field and the gym at old King George Elementary School (OKGES), which is being referred to in the proposed document as the “Quonset Hut,” which is the type of construction of the gym building.


The topic was listed as a discussion item at a School Board meeting on Aug. 26. The proposed lease had first been reviewed by the Board of Supervisors at a meeting earlier in the month on Aug. 6.

 

LOCATION/OWNERSHIP
Hunter Field is located behind old King George Elementary School, which houses the central offices for the division, along with classes for Head Start and Early Childhood Education. The gym, also in the draft lease, is located in an adjacent building.

In addition to that property, the School Board also owns and operates Potomac Elementary School, King George Middle School, and a small bus garage.

The School Board also owns two other vacated buildings, in addition to the OKGES gym, with only vague ideas for future use of them.

Those are the former King George Middle school building, ceremoniously closed in June 2009, along with a vocational building, located between the high school and middle school. That building likewise became disused for student use in 2009.

The county owns three properties operated by the School Board, including King George High School, Sealston Elementary and King George Elementary.

CHANGES TO DRAFT LEASE
When reviewing the draft lease in early August, the Board of Supervisors had requested one substantive change for increasing the term of the draft lease from 25 years to 50 years.

The rationale for that desired change was to conform to the other documents employed for the county to lease properties to the School Board.

The School Board discussed the pros and cons of increasing the length of the lease term and came to consensus that it could stay in the draft at 50 years. But that was largely because another substantive change was wanted by the chairman, John Davis.

That change would be to include wording in clause #18 that would automatically terminate the lease six months from the date that notice is given by the School Board that it desires to end the lease relationship.
Davis suggested that the notice of termination should work both ways.

WHY WANT IT BACK?
School Board members basically agreed to go along with the proposed change, although Kristin Tolliver asked, “Can we go back to discussing why we would ever even want it back?” Rick Randall suggested they might want it back, “If we need to expand our school system and want to use it for expansion of a school facility.”

There were also murmurings that the School Board might want to sell the property at some point.

But the sale of any School Board property is governed by state law, which requires approval of the governing body to sell it, along with other legal requirements, including a public hearing on declaring the property surplus.

The law also appears to indicate that if such approval by the governing body to sell the property is not granted, a School Board’s other alternative to rid itself of property declared surplus, is to convey the title to the county.

RECREATIONAL PURPOSES?
Another look may need to be taken at the rest of the wording in clause #18, which hinges on either a county intention or an actual “ceasing” to use the facilities for recreational purposes.
What does that mean?

Would it apply only to simply ceasing to use either or both facilities?

Or does it mean a prohibition against using the facilities for non-recreational uses?

Currently that draft clause #18 only provides for termination of the lease six months from the date notice is given “by the county to the School Board” that it no longer intends to use the two facilities for recreational purposes.

It also adds that it “shall terminate automatically and immediately” if either ceases to be used for recreational purposes. Amending the draft wording in clause #18 also might require provision of a clear definition of “recreational purposes,” which is likewise first mentioned in clause #6. Clause #6 states, “Hunter Field and the Quonset Hut shall be used by the County only for recreational purposes for the term of the lease.”

WHY LEASE IT?
There are reasons for the county’s desire for a long term lease.

Employing an existing school-use agreement between the two boards currently allows the county and the county’s Parks & Recreation department to use and schedule school division facilities.

But Hunter Field and the Quonset hut gym are no longer used by the school division for any purposes.
The proposed long-term lease for the two facilities would improve the ability for the county Parks & Recreation department to plan and schedule the use of the two facilities.

It would also provide the county the ability to make capital changes and improvements to the buildings, including any future expansion or construction of restroom facilities or a rebuilt concession stand. It is noteworthy that the draft lease specifically excludes the use of restrooms in old King George Elementary school that have exterior access and were previously used for the stadium when it was in use.

Also, very importantly, a long-term lease would formalize the responsibility for maintenance and repairs of the facilities under the county. That way the county could ensure that maintenance would take place, given the history for neglect of both facilities by the division.

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