After a period of unknowns regarding the former ninth-grade center, the Jefferson City School District Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved to declare Simonsen surplus property.
On the last day of school in May, 501 E. Miller St. closed with plans to host summer school for grades nine through 12 the next week.
That night, an EF-3 tornado ripped off much of the roof and shattered windows. Inside, most of the supplies, technology and furniture remained in good condition and were held at the old Sears store at Capital Mall and other schools, chief financial and operating officer Jason Hoffman said.
The district could take three approaches to determine the building’s future, Hoffman said: It could be sold as-is, renovated to its pre-tornado state or better, or demolished.
“August of this year, we didn’t really have a plan of what we were going to do with the building,” Hoffman said.
“I think it’s important to say that something will happen with this building,” board member Lindsey Rowden said. “It’s not going to sit boarded up. There are good things that can happen with that building.”
The district has received $3.5 million of insurance funds from tornado damage, according to the amended budget approved at the Monday meeting. About $1 million has been spent on replacing the Adkin’s Stadium scoreboard, repairing the press box, preventing future damage to Simonsen and other projects, Hoffman said.
Individuals in the public have already expressed interest in purchasing the building, which could cost between $4 million-$6 million to renovate, Hoffman said.
“We haven’t done any type of marketing … just people approaching us,” he said.
Board President Lorelei Schwartz expressed excitement the building would be available, adding “Simonsen is for sale” to her closing remarks.
Discussions on if Simonsen could remain functional were taking place before the tornado, Superintendent Larry Linthacum said.
In other business Monday, the board awarded a $169,000 contract to Missouri Builders Service Inc. of Jefferson City to replace the roof at Thorpe Gordon Elementary School.
More building discussions for JC Schools
At Monday’s meeting, Linthacum said facility needs for kindergarten through eighth grade is the number one priority, while outdoor facilities is second.
After the tornado, some homeowners near Stadium Boulevard, Jackson Street, Oberman Place and Adams Street, contacted the district about purchasing their property, Linthacum said.
JC Schools reached out to about 50 homeowners by mail, Hoffman said. The district is in discussion with owners and has obtained ownership of about 30 properties, he said.
The board approved a budget amendment of $2 million for land acquisition Monday night.
Purchasing the property would allow the district to complete phase two of its outdoor facility plan at Jefferson City High School, Linthacum said.
“We want to make sure that if you go to Jefferson City or Capital City that you have the same athletic and activity opportunity,” Linthacum said.
On the south side of Stadium, the district could have additional competitive sports fields on campus.
“We’re working through that,” Linthacum said. “We feel like that’s the importance of being a premier school district.”
Priority number one includes moving forward on fixing the districts’ space issue, he said.