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Saginaw school district sells one building, could reach deal on another

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Saginaw school district could soon be out of debt. And it can thank the defunct Buena Vista School District. 

The school board voted tonight to accept a $5 million offer for the old Buena Vista High School from an educational services company.  

The Buena Vista district was dissolved by the state in 2013. The district was no longer able to pay its bills.   Some of the district’s students and buildings were transferred to the Saginaw school district, including the high school. 

Interim School Superintendent Kelley Peatross says part of the $5 million will be used to pay off some of Buena Vista’s remaining debts. But the bulk of the money will go to paying off the Saginaw school District’s $4 million budget deficit.

“Does it mean that we will be in the black? We’d be pretty close,” says Peatross. “And we haven’t been there in a long time.”

The fate of one Saginaw school building may be nearly be settled. But the fate of another remains unclear. 

School board officials appear to be backing away from a threat to demolish another building rather than sell it to a local charter school operator. 

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Sell or tear down? The fate of the Phoenix Science and Technology Center may rest on whether the Saginaw School District can reach a deal with a local charter school operator

Francis Reh Academy offered the district $3.2 million for the Phoenix Science and Technology Center. But the school board rejected the offer. It voted instead to tear down the building. 

But Francis Reh officials upped their offer to $3.5 million.   And the board is considering making a counter offer of $4.5 million. 

Paige Scheid-Weber is with Francis Reh Academy. She says they’re willing to talk, but “we have other options and we are willing to explore those options … so we won’t wait.”

Superintendent Peatross defends the counter offer noting that the building was originally listed for $6 million.

“To come in and offer 4.5 (million dollars) based on their counter, I think that’s a valid request,” says Peatross. 

The Saginaw school board will consider making a counter offer at its meeting next week.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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