GFPS buying duplex near Whittier for teacher housing; Roosevelt, Campfire properties listed
The Great Falls Public Schools board voted to purchase property at 821-823 3rd Ave. N., which is next to Whittier Elementary School.
The property owner, Kevin Gilbert, approached the district about selling the property and a residential appraisal report was prepared with a listing price of $290,000 for the duplex.
“The property has a significant value to the school district because Whittier Elementary School does not have a very big footprint and is landlocked,” according to the staff report. “The district has a need for affordable housing for our new teachers. Eventually, this area could be used for additional playground space or parking for our staff.”
There are currently renters in both units of the duplex with rent at $950 per month per apartment, according to the district.
The district plans to use the Interlocal Agreement Fund to purchase the property.
The district has listed the former Roosevelt Elementary School and the Campfire house for sale.
In September, the district selected Catalyst Commercial to serve as the real estate agent for the sale.
Roosevelt is listed at $899,000 and the property has 33,825 square feet of interior space and sits on a 2.571 acre lot.
The Campfire house is listed for $153,000 with 3,125 square feet of interior space and a 0.172 acre lot.
Over the summer, the board approved the disposal and surplus of the properties because they were “determined to be obsolete, undesirable or unsuitable for the school purposes of the district,” according to the district.
Catalyst will be paid from proceeds on the property sale, according to GFPS.
According to state law, funds from the sale of district property must be credited to the debt service fund, building fund,
general fund, or other appropriate fund, at the discretion of the trustees.
As part of the $98 million facilities bond that voters approved in 2016, Giant Springs Elementary School was constructed to replace Roosevelt, 2501 2nd Ave. N., and it served as a temporary school during construction. Roosevelt also served as the remote instruction center during COVID-19, which shut down in-person learning for a time and some students opted for remote learning.
“It has been determined that it is no longer suitable for district use,” according to the June staff report from Brian Patrick, GFPS director of business operations.
Patrick said that the school board will determine the appropriate fund after the sale of Roosevelt has been completed.
The Campfire house property was purchased with bond funds with the intent to add more parking by Great Falls High School, but zoning issues and costs to create the parking stopped the project. The district has since worked with the City of Great Falls to use a portion of Kranz Park to create more space for parking near Great Falls High.
Patrick told The Electric that the district had discussions with its bond counsel regarding the sale of the Campfire building since it was purchased with bond funds. The direction from counsel was that since the original intent of that purchase was for parking that it would be in the best interest of the district to use funds from that sale for parking.
Proceeds from the sale of the Campfire house will be used toward the new parking lot on school property next to Memorial Stadium, according to Patrick’s staff report.
There was some discussion years ago about letting Alliance for Youth use the Campfire building, but according to Patrick, bond counsel advised against it since it was purchased with bond money specifically for parking.