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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 11 2010

District boosting effort to sell Woodrow Wilson

The Fargo School Board is getting into the real estate business.

The board agreed Tuesday to get more aggressive in selling Woodrow Wilson School, and also wants to unload about 40 acres of potentially prime development land north of the new Davies High School.

Board President Jim Johnson said the district is improving its signage at Woodrow Wilson in a more visible “for sale by owner” campaign.

The district wants $1.8 million for the school and the city block it sits on just west of downtown.

District officials once thought there would be a flood of offers due to the downtown development binge of the past few years. Instead, until recently, interest was negligible.

Superintendent Rick Buresh told the board he’s gotten three inquiries in the past three days.

“I don’t think we’ve tried to sell it as an owner yet, or not very well,” Johnson said. “Obviously, this is a very unique property.”

On the far south side of town, the district also owns 40 acres along 25th Street South between 64th and 70th avenues south.

The land is just north of Davies, which is on track to open next fall.

“It is a large stretch of what someday should be some very valuable land,” Johnson said. “Some developer is going to want this land.”

The board acquired the land in a swap with Fred and Earlyne Hector, major landowners in the Fargo area. The Hectors swapped the parcel for land the School District once owned northeast of the intersection of Interstate 29 and 52nd Avenue South, which was once tabbed as a high school site, but was carved up by eminent domain takings by the city for other projects.

Board member Kris Wallman suggested a cost-benefit analysis to see if it would be worth keeping the southside land.

Board member Rick Steen replied that the land will have $1.4 million to $1.5 million in special assessments for sewer, water and road improvements to support the new high school.

The board agreed to have the administration create a plan to sell the land and get proposals from Realtors.

Steen said if the district fails to sell Woodrow Wilson in a reasonable amount of time, the board may seek proposals from Realtors to sell that property, too.

Woodrow Wilson houses the district’s alternative high school, which will move to the Agassiz School/

South Campus II building in fall 2011.

The board also delayed action on a preliminary student activities budget and on hearing the summary of the 2009-10 budget because revised figures for both budgets have been generated but not examined by a board subcommittee.

Buresh said $50,000 to $100,000 in cuts have been made to the nearly $4.2 million activities budget for 2010-11. Unrevised figures put this school year’s activities budget nearly $1.2 million bigger than the $3 million spent in 2009-10.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583