Some interest in former Mt. Morris school building

Oregon superintendent said bid process continues for sale of former David L. Rahn Junior High

OREGON — There has been some interest in the former David L. Rahn Junior High School following the Oregon School Board’s decision last month to seek bids to sell the building and its surrounding property.

“Two different gentlemen did a walk through of the building and another has asked for a packet,” Oregon Superintendent Tom Mahoney told board members Monday night. “We know for sure we’ve had at least three with some interest in the building.”

Mahoney said representatives who are considering starting a college in the area had also expressed an interest in the building.

“They are going to do a walk through in August,” Mahoney said.

School officials unanimously voted in June to start the 60-day process to seek bids to sell the building after the Mt. Morris Village Board rejected ownership of the 1952 school building which was the Mt. Morris High School. The school became the junior high when the two districts joined in the early 1990s.

A notice of sale has to be published for 3 weeks before the bid opening. “If no bids are received then we can hire a real estate broker or demolish it,” Mahoney said in June.

Mt. Morris Village Trustees recommended in June that the school board reconsider pursuing any disposition of the building for a period of 2-3 years.

On Feb. 22, school board members voted 4-2 to close DLR at the end of the 2021-22 school year, despite pleas from Mt. Morris officials and residents to keep the school open.

Seventh grade and eighth grade students will attend Oregon High School, which is located 5 miles to the east in Oregon, beginning this fall.

DLR was the last remaining school in Mt. Morris. The Mt. Morris School District merged with the Oregon School District because of financial reasons.

Mahoney first proposed closing DLR in May 2021, citing decreasing enrollment throughout the district and increasing maintenance costs at DLR as reasons to do so.

“We continue to believe this decision is wrong, shortsighted and not in the best interest of students, staff and district families,” Labash said in a written statement two weeks ago. “Immediate disposition of the building through sale, transfer or demolition will eliminate a critical safety net, should serious issues arise as a result of this decision.”

An advisory committee, formed before the school board’s final vote, argued that information they had disputed Mahoney’s assessment of the building’s physical condition and also argued that the school district did not need to close the school due to financial reasons.

A walk-through of the building was offered to the public on July 3.

On Monday, Bruce Obendorf, a former school board member and Mt. Morris resident, thanked the board for opening the school to the public for the walk through.

“Thank you for giving Mt. Morris High School alumni the opportunity to see the building,” he said. “It meant something for them to walk into that gym again and remember. I thank you for allowing people to do that.”

As part of the bid process, bids must be submitted in a sealed envelope titled “Bid for School District Real Estate” with the name, address, and telephone number of the bidder displayed on the outside of the bid. Bids are due on Aug. 9, at 3 p.m., at the District Administrative Office, 206 S. 10th Street, Oregon, IL 61061.

Bids will be opened and read aloud on Aug. 9, at 3 p.m., at the District Administrative Office. The award of the bid, if at all, shall be by the Board of Education on Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m., or such later date as the Board may determine.

A bidder’s information packet is available at the district office and on the district’s website, www.ocusd.net. The packet contains the terms and conditions of the sale, a bid form, a specimen lease agreement, a specimen real estate purchase agreement, an ALTA survey, and a commitment for title insurance for the real estate.

Any questions relating to the sale of the real estate should be sent via email to Mahoney at tmahoney@ocusd.net. Inquiries must be submitted before 3 p.m. on Aug. 5.

The property is available through auction by a sealed bid with no minimum sale price.

“The closure of the David L. Rahn Junior High School building was a hard decision to make, but we know it’s right for our students, our taxpayers, and our OCUSD220 community,” Mahoney said in a press release. “It has opened the doors to new opportunities for Jr. High students this upcoming fall, such as the option to take Spanish and Ag as well as offering additional computer science and social studies courses. We are also thrilled to announce that FFA will now be available to our junior high students.”

The repurposing of the David. L. Rahn Junior High School property can provide growth opportunities for the village of Mt. Morris through investment in new business, the release also said.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.