MANATEE -- The Manatee County School Board will not sell the property behind King Middle School -- yet.
A motion to sell the 5.2 acre property behind King failed in a 3-1 vote Monday. The property contains seven tennis courts, retention pond, parking lot and undeveloped space.
School board member Bob Gause removed himself from the vote citing potential conflict of interest. Gause owns consultant firm Allison Gause Inc. and said one of his clients might have purchased the property had the motion passed.
Only Julie Aranibar voted in favor of selling the property.
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"There was not a lot of cultivation trying to get input from the community," school board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner said on why he voted against the sale.
The King Middle School property sits on private roads at the corner of Ninth Avenue Northwest and 75th Street Northwest.
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.
King Middle uses the courts for physical education classes, and the Manatee High School tennis also uses the courts.
Jane Dreger, school district construction services director and executive planner, and Mike Pendleym facility planning and
land acquisition director, brought other properties to the board to consider selling: 3.8 acres on the outer edges of Bayshore High School and almost 18 acres next to Braden River High School.
The school board decided not to vote on selling any of the properties, which have not been appraised.
School board Chairwoman Karen Carpenter said she voted against the King Middle sale because the school district has not yet talked to the Student Advisory Committee and the Parent Teacher Organization at King Middle School.
King Middle School PE coach Craig Burns wanted to keep the courts. Burns said King Middle uses them in the physical education program.
"We have over 900 kids moving through PE a day. Without those courts we would be in trouble," Burns said.
Burns said selling the property behind King would be a short-term decision and a long-term mistake. He said he has limited areas to teach PE and often has to use the grassy property around the tennis courts as a field. Burns said the playing field floods when it rains and is unusable for days, but the grassy area behind King drains properly.
"This is a poor decision. I am not just speaking for myself but also for the kids," Burns said.
The school board's new procedure for selling properties is supposed to provide consistency, and the school board decided proper steps had not been followed for the King Middle, Bayshore or Braden River properties.
The 22-step procedure includes talking to school administrators, Student Advisory Committee and the Parent Teacher Organization about any possible sale if the property is part of a school or used by a school; getting appraisals and surveys; reviewing offers; preparing contracts to be reviewed by the attorney; and final payments.
Dreger said she and Pendley had met with all principals, but not all Student Advisory Committees because it was the end of May and the beginning of June.
Another issue was the location of the property.
"It is on a private road near two privately owned residential properties," Miner said. "I have no reservations for the property on State Road 70, but King is part of residential community resources."
Not all board members agreed about the State Road 70 property either.
"Braden River is not well thought out with how vehicle and pedestrian traffic works out," Carpenter said. "What can go in there?"
The school board also had concerns with the outlying Bayshore High property that was a parking lot.
"I don't want to get to point where we might need additional property," school board member Barbara Harvey said.
Pendley said the property is no use to the school district. The lot is used about six times a year for a farmers' market, Pendley said.
Aranibar said farmers markets benefit Bayshore High School. The property is occasionally used for IMG Academy overflow parking, and Harley Davidson also holds training courses for driving motorcycles on that property.
The school board decided not to sell the properties now, but it could in the future if the district needs money.
"The point was to review properties, get input and have time to address concerns before bringing it back," Dreger said.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.