The school district’s plan to sell Hall school drew questions Monday evening, including an apparently incorrect assertion that the school district doesn’t own the land.
The former elementary school on the northeast corner of the city, closed three years ago and has been used sparingly since.
When the topic of selling the land came up late on the school board meeting agenda Monday evening, resident Mary Studley stood in the audience and spoke.
Studley told the board there are 5.2 acres of land on the grounds, that the trash dumpster there costs $2,400/year, and then she unloaded an apparent bombshell — that the North Platte school district is not the registered owner on Lincoln County real estate records.
Studley, whose father owned the land, said the original deed from the 1880s says the land could be used only for a school. If that changed, the land would revert to private owners.
However, the Lincoln County Register of Deeds told the Bulletin the next day that there is a warranty deed for the land on file, signed by Helen Studley of the Rosedale Ranch, conveying the land (5.42 acres) to school district #5 (Hall School) for $15,500.
The transaction occurred on March 14, 1979, according to the deed.
Also, board member JoAnn Lundgreen asked for the cost of maintenance on the building, since the school closed three years ago.
The district’s director of operations Stuart Simpson said a custodian receives $15,000 a year to clean and maintain the school, and utilities cost from $3,000-5,000 a year, depending on the weather and what events that are held in the building. He said the building is primarily used for offices for Kids Klub, as well as after-school programs and Community Connections events.
Board member Skip Altig asked how many acres of land go with the building. Simpson said he was not exactly sure, but about five acres.
That was when Studley stood and spoke, ignoring the process that administrators have set for public comments. She was asked to step to the microphone and finish talking, and tell the board and administrators what she knew about the property.
After Studley spoke, the board went ahead and agreed to authorize Supt. Ron Hanson and Simpson to pursue the sale of the property, on a 4-0 vote. Matt Pederson was absent and Alecia Hothan resigned at the start of the meeting, because she has moved out of her ward.
Morrell said the vote would allow the district’s leaders to clarify the ownership and the exact acreage involved, as well as other details. He said the school district has no more use for the building.
During the discussion with Simpson, board members also insisted the board have another vote before any of the property would be sold.
Studley told the Bulletin later that the name, Hall School, is a tribute to the homesteader who settled there – Ashebelle Hall.
She also said she was surprised to learn that people are told to sign up before school board meetings to make a public comment near the end of the meetings, which last two hours or so.
“I didn’t know you had to get on the agenda,” she said. “If you’re having a public meeting, why do you have to put yourself on the agenda?”
(This report was updated Tuesday, May 15 with information from the Lincoln County Register of Deeds about ownership of the land.)