Sara Swanson

School Board Votes to Purchase Land from the United Methodist Church for New Ticket Booth

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The current ticket booth which sits on church property needs to be replaced. The church, while unwilling to have a permanent structure proposed by the athletic boosters built in it's place, was willing to sell the land to the district.

The current ticket booth which sits on church property needs to be replaced. The church, while unwilling to have the permanent structure proposed by the athletic boosters built in its place, was willing to sell the land to the district.

In a special School Board meeting Wednesday night, the School Board voted in favor of purchasing a 3/4 acre parcel of land from the Manchester United Methodist Church for $10,000 in addition to closing costs and survey. Pending approval from the Village and a Title search, the Athletic Boosters plan to build a new ticket booth on the newly purchased land. While it may seem questionable to spend $10,000 on something non-essential when the school district faces a budget deficit, the money won’t be coming out of the general fund so will it not count toward the fund balance, and this purchase will conclude a deal struck between the district and the church 35 years ago.

In 1981 the school district was in worse financial shape than it is in today. Busing had been discontinued, the high school was down to a 5-hour a day schedule and all fall sports had been canceled. The athletic boosters were in the process of building the football section of the athletic complex and instead of having to install the fence on the hill, which would have been difficult, the church let the school build the fence and stairs on the church’s land. Over the years the church has had concerns over liability issues associated with this arrangement but although it has been discussed in the past, no deal to purchase it had ever been reached.

When the Athletic Boosters proposed building a new, permanent ticket booth to replace the older portable booth in dire need of repair, the church offered to sell the property and as Superintendent Cherie Vannatter phrased it, “the Board saw the opportunity to correct a longstanding issue.”

The money will be coming out of the Pleasant Lake Capital Needs Fund. Vannatter explained that most of the money in this fund is from the sale of Pleasant Lake School several years ago, although it also includes money raised from the sale of a small piece of property behind the Middle School. When the sale of the school happened, the Board at the time made the decision to use the money raised for capital improvements, (although the current Board could change this designation at any time). In the past, this fund has paid for improvements to school buildings–for example, the Klager roof repair, repair of the heating units at the Wellness Center, and boiler repairs in the Ackerson Building.

The Athletic Boosters already have the funds to build the ticket booth. The ticket booth will not be paid for with school district funds.

Although the money spent on the property purchase will not speed the rate at which the district’s fund balance drops below the threshold that triggers increased State scrutiny, two Board members voted against the purchase, citing their unwillingness to spend the money with the current state of the district’s funds.

Now that the School Board has voted to approve the purchase, the church needs to approve the sale. Pastor Aaron Kesson stated, “We are certainly hopeful that all will go through, however we have to go through our own church-related processes to finalize the sale. This could take another month or two. The main reason for our desire to sell is due to liability.” He elaborated on the church’s relationship with the school, “We continue to hold an agreement with the school for use of our parking lot, and we hope that this sale of property will continue the positive partnership between the school and Manchester UMC. The church is very supportive of our community and we are proud to have been a part of Manchester for over 175 years. Go Dutch!”

Corrections: The original title implied that the transaction was complete. In fact the Manchester United Methodist Church’s decision making bodies now need to approve the sale before it can go through. Also, the fund the money is coming out of was originally referred to as the “Pleasant Lake School Fund” but is actually called the “Pleasant Lake Capital Needs Fund”.

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