VAN ORIN — During a special school board meeting on Sept. 30, the LaMoille Community Unit School Board accepted a sealed bid in the amount of $11,100 from Southfork Premier Properties, LLC for the sale of the former Van Orin School building.
According to Superintendent Brent Ziegler, the intended use of the building by the purchaser was not specified in the bid process.
The building has sat empty this school year as the district has undergone a restructuring of its district to house kindergarten-sixth grade students in its historic Allen Grade School and seventh through 12th grades at what’s now known as the LaMoille Jr./Sr. High School. Both school buildings are located in LaMoille.
“The decision to sell the property was based on the expenses of maintaining an empty facility, underutilized space in the other district buildings and the reduction of costs in the area of transportation, maintenance, support services and education,” Brent Ziegler, school superintendent said.
The plan for reconfiguration of the LaMoille School District has been ongoing for the past six years under several administrations, he added. The plan addressed declining enrollment, enhancement of teaching and learning and focused on fiscal responsibility to ensure the viability of LaMoille schools.
Ziegler said the board on Aug. 19 unanimously voted to sell the Van Orin Elementary School building. The drafted resolution was then published on Aug. 25 in the Mendota Reporter and in the post offices throughout the school district’s coverage area. The public notice in the newspaper ran for three weeks until Sept. 16.
Three bids were received, and Ziegler said upon the advice of the district’s attorney, the board was obligated to accept the highest bid, which came in from Southfork Premier Properties.
Throughout this process, Ziegler said no public concern has risen from the decision to sell off the Van Orin building.
“The public has the opportunity to speak at every monthly school board meeting, and no public concerns have been expressed,” he said.
Throughout the district’s restructuring, no staff members have been eliminated, according to Ziegler.
“During the previous year, there was movement of employees, but not directly related to the closing of the Van Orin facility,” he said.
The history of the Van Orin school dates back to 1958 when it was dedicated. It became a part of the LaMoille Community United School District in 1970. The school had been closed for a number of years and was reopened in the spring of 2001.