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Mathews Schools consider closing Currie

VIENNA — School officials are discussing options with district buildings and properties, including eliminating one building as a cost-savings measure.

School Superintendent Russell McQuaide and members of the Mathews Board of Education are considering going from three school buildings to two and also possibly putting up for sale some land behind the school administration building off Cadwallader Sonk Road.

The district has Currie Elementary School in Fowler for kindergarten to second grades, Baker Elementary School in Vienna for grades three to six and Mathews High School in Vienna for grades seven to 12.

Being proposed is to use Baker for housing kindergarten to fifth and the high school for sixth to 12th, and closing Currie.

Officials said if Baker would become a kindergarten-to-fifth building and the high school a sixth-to-12th building, work would need to be done to make improvements using permanent improvement levy funds.

Board member Michele Garman suggested a committee be formed to look over options and to make sure the district’s needs are met.

REPURPOSING CURRIE

Resident Janice Thomas of Fowler, who attends Mathews board meetings regularly, said if Currie and Baker were to merge into one school at the Baker site, residents will want to have something done with the Currie building.

“Fowler residents will be upset and will want to find something to do with Currie once it is closed. The property owners around that school building will not be happy if it is left vacant. There is still an eyesore in the center of town with the other school building,” Thomas said, referring to the former Neal Middle School that at one time housed sixth to eighth grades.

Board President Tarin Brown said the closure talks are preliminary, and the board will look at options for the building.

He said the school district sold the Neal building for more than $10,000 and does not have control of how the building off state Route 193 is being used.

‘We did the best we could for the taxpayers. It would have cost a lot more for the schools to tear it down,” Brown said.

LAND FOR SALE?

McQuaide said also to be considered is there is a lot of acreage behind the board administration office building in Vienna Center that could be put up for sale.

He said the sale of the land could help generate funds for any future renovations and improvements needed at district buildings.

“If we sell the land, which we are not using, we could invest some of those funds in improving our buildings,” McQuaide said.

Officials said the property has more than 100 acres.

“We can use this property to the school district’s advantage by selling it. Someone could use the land for farming or for a housing development. There could be a nice residential neighborhood back there,” McQuaide said.

STADIUM UPDATE

The proposed project to update the stands and playing field at the stadium by Baker Elementary is being reviewed to see if aspects of the project can be done separately or if it less expensive to do the entire project as one.

“We may hold off on this right now with other projects we need to get done. We want to see if we do it in sections and priortize the projects,” McQuaide said.

He said there are other projects in the district that will be looked at first.

At prior board meetings, McQuaide and the board discussed possibly breaking down the stadium renovation project into sections to keep project costs under $50,000 to avoid placing the project out for bid.

The first phase could be demolition of the aging stands and the second phase the excavation and cement work.

Officials have said bleachers at the stadium were donated from Warren G. Harding High School in the late 1960s and need replaced. Other parts of the stadium have become unsafe due to age.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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