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2/19/2013 10:38:00 AM
Williams District likely to acquire Coconino Community College building on Williams High School campus
School board approves amended lease agreement, could take ownership by July if CCC board agrees to lease
If the Coconino Community College (CCC) board approves an amended lease agreement, the Williams Unified School District will acquire the CCC building located on the Williams High School campus by July. Ryan Williams/WGCN
If the Coconino Community College (CCC) board approves an amended lease agreement, the Williams Unified School District will acquire the CCC building located on the Williams High School campus by July. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams Unified School District (WUSD) took the next step in acquiring the Coconino Community College (CCC) building, after the governing board voted 4-1 to approve an amended lease agreement for the building at the Feb. 13 regular meeting.

If the CCC board also approves the amended lease agreement at its Feb. 26 meeting, WUSD will take ownership of the building July 1.

Under the agreement, CCC will give the building to the district as a gift but will maintain some signage on the building.

The lease agreement states that WUSD will pay CCC $4,055.50 for some of the existing furniture and equipment in the building. CCC will remove other furniture it wishes to keep.

"We didn't get everything we hoped for but we are grateful to have some of the items," WUSD Superintendent Rachel Savage said.

WUSD Business Manager Melissa Ellico estimated at a previous meeting the cost to maintain the building would be $10,000 per year.

WUSD hopes to use the building, which is on the Williams High School (WHS) campus, for more Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes.

School officials polled eighth grade and high school students about which CTE classes they would be interested in taking. The most requested program was law enforcement, Savage said.

Governing Board member Herman Nixon voted against approving the amended lease agreement.

"We've got fences that need mending, we've got fields that need to be fixed, we've got locker rooms that leak water and we're going to put $10,000 out for a building when we don't even take care of our facilities as it is?" Nixon said prior to the vote.

Nixon also expressed concern that finding teachers for the CTE classes would be difficult.

Savage said she understood Nixon's reservations about acquiring the building.

"My concern was if not us, it'll be somebody else and I'm not certain what the headaches will be with something else coming into that facility on our property," Savage said.

Nixon said he was not worried about someone else taking the building since it has been vacant for several years and the agreement specifies it must be used for educational purposes.

Nixon added that he supports CTE programs but wants to make sure the district will be able to put them in place before taking on an additional cost.

"Do I think it's a great opportunity? Yes. Am I against taking the building? No. But if we don't have something in place and it's going to cost us money I am against it," Nixon said. "I just don't want to see us take over a building that's going to sit there. That's my whole issue with this."

WHS principal Tristan Heisley said he had considered the situation in the opposite way.

"I wasn't going to go out and do too much work getting all these programs put in place until we had the building," he said. "But I have no doubt that we can get programs put in in the next year," Heisley said.

Board President David Nenne said Nixon made valid arguments.

"I take a little different viewpoint as an opportunity looking to the future for growth and expansion," Nenne said. "My biggest concern is if we don't act on this what happens."

CCC President Leah Bornstein responded by saying she would look for alternatives.

"If you choose not to go in this direction, I will continue to be beating the pavement to find an educational institution or institute or some group to come in and utilize that facility because it is just sitting there," Bornstein said. "No matter what we have tried over the years it's not working and all of our data bears that out."

The remaining governing board members supported taking over the CCC building.

"I'd like to be optimistic. It would be nice to have room to grow," board member Thomas Ross said.

Ellico added that the high school has no extra classrooms, which can make recruiting new teachers difficult.

Ross added that $10,000 was a reasonable cost to maintain the building.

Board member Bud Parenteau also supported acquiring the building.

"I see it as an opportunity that we don't want to pass up," he said.

The governing board also unanimously approved entering a partnership with the Arizona Science Center (ASC). APS provided the $250,000 grant to ASC to use at four schools.

"The intent of the grant is to assist rural school districts in Arizona, northern Arizona particularly, who wouldn't otherwise have access to the Science Center because of distance," said Robert Robertson, a professional learning specialist for the Center for Leadership in Learning at the ASC.

The three to five year grant would allow for professional development and mentoring for teachers.

"The intent here again is to offset costs over the last five years or so since the economic budget crunch has occurred. Lots of districts have had to cut back a lot of their services," Robertson said.

Savage said the district can use the grant money in areas where teachers need it the most. The district would pay an annual $2,000 partnership fee with money from the Rural Schools grant.

"The services that we would stand to gain far outweigh the partnership fee," Savage said. "And the fact that only four districts were invited to participate, I'm just really thankful that you thought of Williams and appreciative that we can have the opportunities that some of the larger districts can afford."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Taxpayer

This town is hopeless...."constant"...really?

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Article comment by: Selfish Needs

As a parent I don't see how we can afford a 10,000 dollar building when the school my child is in now can't afford a after school program. Not to mention the fact that the roof inside the building we have now doesn't seem to be finished. Its time to stop and think we need to repair the buildings we have first before we move on to a new project. If the taxes in this town go up any higher to pay for this new building families will not be able to afford to live here. So you won't have to worry about any future students coming to your new program.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: this town is hopeless

"Concerned Taxpayer", why the constant derogatory comments about the Superintendent? Did you try to hit on her and she sprayed you with pepper spray?

I'm skeptical about this as well, since CCC claims $40,000/year in maintenance (per AZDailySun article on this), yet the WUSD is using $10,000/year to "sell" this to the people. I wholeheartedly agree that I would love to see the WUSD instead try to put some money towards hiring a QUALITY Band Instructor, and return Williams to the top of the AZHS band awards.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Blow Taxpayer

I recall several months ago when the school bond passed, the district needed to keep the existing bond money as they were in financial trouble. Now they have acquired another building to take care of when they can't take care of what they have now. For all those that voted, "Yes" pat yourselves on the back!

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: lu Carle

It seems illogical to me to assume the liability of a new building before a clear need is established.
Perhaps it would be wiser to fill the empty band room with music again.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Taxpayer

I bet it won't be long before our new Superintendent manages to move into the building as the new Superintendent Office. I would prefer to see the "extra" money the school seems to have be spent to better educate and prepare kids for college!

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: dumb planning

It was a mistake to put this building where it is in the first place. All it did was mess up the football games. Now it is vacant? Great job to CCC and the board members who voted to let them build it there in the first place.

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