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So I went on a tour of the Redwood Valley Middle School campus yesterday (July 6th). There were a few other people on the tour being led by a handful of Ukiah Unified School District employees.
They school was surprisingly in good shape. There is frequent vandalism so all the windows are boarded up and some of the doors. There’s broken glass and such inside some of the buildings but not much that a good sweeping, a shop vac, other clean up, and some fresh paint couldn’t handle. I saw a tiny bit of water damage on the ceiling in one of the classrooms but it looked like it had happened before they remodeled the school and that the roof wasn’t currently leaking. A few fascia and sofit boards on one of the wings but nothing major. Even the gymnasium/cafeteria is in good shape. It doesn’t look like it needs to be torn down, just cleaned up to repurpose. If it isn’t torn down, there’s no need to abate the lead and asbestos.
The school officials did admit that UUSD should have made a better effort to secure and maintain the site to protect it from vandalism and degradation. The community has been clamoring for as much since the closure of the school many years ago. They let a public asset degrade to the point that now they are letting it go at fire sale prices.
I emailed a local charter school afterward asking if they had any interest as I had heard rumors that they were. They responded promptly saying they did look at the school a few months ago and estimated $2 million in repairs to get it attendance ready which is a far cry from the $10 million estimate years ago. Being a charter school, they would need UUSD approval to put a Prop 39 bond measure on the ballot which they would likely be turned down as they have been in the past. If UUSD had maintained it better, it may have been a different situation. They also have debt in their current location. So, the answer was thanks for thinking of us but, no.
It’s a shame because it’s in fair shape considering. Looking under the stage in the auditorium, the framing is very sound, stout construction, and of high-quality wood. The opening bid is shy of $1 million. Figuring a $2 million cleanup and remodel, $3 million for 12 acres and a whole campus of buildings seems like a steal for whoever buys it.
I understand interest rates are high, which depresses real estate prices and makes bank funding more difficult shrinking the pool of buyers but I think it would be short-sighted for the school to sell it for such a low price. They have already sat on it for this long, I would suggest waiting a year or two until interest rates come back down and the real estate market gets better. They likely could sell it for $2-3 million in a better market. I don’t know about UUSD’s financial situation so I don’t know how desperate they are for the $1 million but if they waited to get more money, it would be much better financially. There’s virtually nothing that would double or triple the return on investment of $1 million in a year or two.
So here we are with another publicly elected board, mismanaging the public’s assets and then making decisions based on a crisis mentality. This will not change until we elect better leaders.