Janesville71°

Milton School District eyeing former CESA 2 building

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
May 19, 2011
— The Milton School Board could approve an $875,000 option Monday to buy the vacant former Milton College Daland Fine Arts Center, school district officials said this week.

Superintendent Bernie Nikolay said the district wants to buy the 20,000-square-foot building at 448 E. High St., which housed the CESA 2 educational services cooperative for several years until February, when the group relocated to Whitewater.


Nikolay said the district would use the building to relocate its district office, which is in rented space nearby at the city-owned Shaw Municipal Building, 430 E. High St., and as a location for the alternative high school, MECAS, which is in rented space at 35 Plumb Street.


The district has been in talks with the property’s owner for several weeks, and the groups have reached a tentative agreement on a price, Nikolay said.


The board is slated to discuss an option on the property in closed session Monday and could vote on the issue after the closed session.


Residents would have final authority on the purchase through a vote at a special public forum, which Nikolay said could be held as early as June 27.


The district is reviewing how to pay for the property. Financing options include using money from the fund balance, Nikolay said, but the district also could enter into a land contract with the owner or float bonds.


Borrowing money to buy the building could require a referendum, which would delay a decision a few months, Nikolay said.


Owning the former Daland building would cost the district less than what it spends now in rent at other locations, Nikolay said. Plus, it would free up operating money now spent on rent, leaving more cash for programs and district expenses.


“It would be a cost savings to the district in both the short and the long term,” he said.


The district pays the city $40,000 a year for rent and utilities for 6,000 square feet in the upper level at the Shaw Municipal Building, which also houses Milton City Hall and the Milton Public Library.


The district paid about $71,000 this year for rent and services for 12,000 square feet at the current location for its alternative school, although some costs are prorated to the Edgerton and Clinton school districts, which are partners in the alternative school.


Nikolay said Building and Grounds Director Wendell Boyer walked through the Daland building and reported it appears in excellent shape.


The owners report the building’s mechanical equipment is about 10 years old, which puts it in the middle of its expected life. The roof is in good shape, and the interior was remodeled about 12 years ago, Nikolay said.


“It’s essentially a newer building,” he said. “We would expect that very little would need to be done before we moved in.”


City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said the city is aware it could lose the school district as a tenant. He said if the school district moves out, the city could use the extra space at the Shaw Municipal Center for a library expansion or for climate-controlled storage for the police department.



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