MANATEE -- The Manatee County school board is considering selling three sizeable properties, including 5.2 acres at King Middle School that includes tennis courts, parking and a small pond.
The board will also consider Monday whether to sell 3.8 acres on the outer edges of Bayshore High School and almost 18 acres adjacent to Braden River High School.
The King Middle School property sits on private roads at the corner of Ninth Avenue N.W. and 75th Street N.W. The full 6.3 acres of land behind the school was valued at $688,831 in 2012. The school board purchased the property in 2004 when Roger Dearing was superintendent for $750,000.
The property was owned by the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy 35 years ago. The property changed hands several times before it was purchased by the school board.
"King did not have much land, and when we had the
opportunity to buy it provided a tennis facility for students and the community," said former school board chairman Harry Kinnan.
The courts are used by King Middle students and by the Manatee High School tennis team, and have also been used for summer camps. If the property is sold, students will still have five tennis courts to use that are not on that property.
At Bayshore High, the 3.8 acres are on the corner of 53rd Avenue West and 34th Street West. The entire 18.86 acres where the section sits was valued at $242,351 in 2012.
The school board is discussing selling two patches adjacent to Braden River High School. One area is 9.65 acres on the corner of 53rd Avenue East and 60th Street East. The other is 7.2 acres directly on State Road 70.
School board chairwoman Karen Carpenter and school board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner said the school board has not had the properties appraised.
"Why get an appraisal unless declaring it surplus?" Carpenter said.
Miner said the school board is considering selling the high school properties because they are not being used.
"The land is not developed or being used, and it is not necessary for any teacher use for either [Manatee Technical Institute] or Braden River," Miner said.
Miner said the parcels by Braden River High School are prime commercial properties.
"They are valuable pieces of property and should command a high price," Miner said. "They are both on State Road 70.
But Miner is uncertain what that high price should be.
"The first step is to declare the properties as surplus," Miner said. "Then we will have our own appraiser give a ballpark figure."
He also said the property behind King Middle was not a good investment by the district.
Bob Gause will be removing himself from the vote as he said it could be a potential conflict.
Gause, the owner of the entitlement and consulting company for developers Allison Gause Inc., said he could potentially be involved in the development of one of these properties through his business.
"There is a possibility that one of my clients could end up being a developer on any one of the properties," Gause said. "This creates a potential conflict."
Gause and Miner said the properties will likely be developed for professional offices or community recreational facilities. There are limitations of use because of the properties' proximity to schools.
For example, the properties may not be developed into a bar, liquor store or adult entertainment business.
Miner said that because of the district's current financial situation, he does not foresee the board voting against the sales.
"We are doing our best to save the district from a state takeover," Miner said. "Liquidating properties for capital fund is very helpful, but it shouldn't be a give-away. We don't want to sell property that could compromise the safety of students."
If the school board approves the decision to sell the properties on Monday, they will also have to decide if they want to list the property through a Realtor.
"That will be the decision of the board, but we have not always used a Realtor in the past," Miner said.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.