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Published July 31 2010

No offers yet on Woodrow Wilson school

Nearly four months after Fargo school officials announced they were selling a downtown building, they haven’t received any offers on it yet.

Woodrow Wilson, which houses the school district’s alternative high school, was put up for sale for $1.8 million in April.

Since then, some people have expressed interest, but the district hasn’t received any firm offers.

“I’m not terribly concerned,” Superintendent Rick Buresh said Friday after the school board’s planning committee met. “This is a very unique property, and I think the board was sort of prepared for this.”

In fact, the board started the process a year before the building will be vacated. Next fall, Woodrow Wilson High School will move to Agassiz School, or South Campus II.

If a buyer doesn’t come forward soon, the board could look to other options, such as lowering the price or listing it with a Realtor.

“This is obviously not our business,” Buresh said of selling the school.

Administrators are putting up a second sign outside the building and publishing a newspaper ad to notify the public that it’s up for sale.

Dan Huffman, the district’s longtime business manager, was heading up the process until he recently resigned. Buresh and Jim Frueh, director of maintenance and operations, are now leading efforts to sell the 1918 building. In the end, the school board will reject or accept an offer.

Also Friday, the board received an update on the district’s budget for the next year, which hasn’t been finalized yet.

Interim Business Manager Jackie Gapp said she’s working with Activities Director Ed Lockwood to “tighten” the activities budget, which came in $800,000 over what was initially anticipated.

“That’s a big change,” Gapp said.

Of the $4 million budget, Gapp said the $800,000 of unanticipated expenses stem from $250,000 in one-time activity equipment purchases for Davies High School, which opens next fall, as well as salary changes for activity staff.

They’re paid on a 15-year step schedule, which was adjusted this year to a 10-year schedule to give staff comparable pay to other school districts, Gapp said.

Before the board approves a final budget in September, she and Lockwood will review staffing to make sure activities aren’t overstaffed, she said, and decide whether salary changes “may not be something that can be done this year.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515