Published Online: August 20, 2014

Disagreement over closed southeast Kansas school

MCCUNE, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas school district is offering to lease a closed school building to the city of McCune, despite the city's request to have outright ownership of the building.

It's the latest development in the months-long disagreement between the Southeast School District and the city about the building, the future of which has been uncertain since it was closed in May, despite strong opposition from residents.

The school board of the Cherokee-based district is offering to lease the building to the city of McCune for $1 a year for 25 years, The Joplin Globe reported (http://bit.ly/1pZYY3G ).

But City Councilwoman Cherie Thomas-Schenker said Tuesday that the city learned of the offer through the media and will have to discuss it, likely at the council's meeting Sept. 8.

Southeast School District is reluctant to give the building to the city because a group of residents at one time asked a different school district to reopen it as an elementary school.

"We paid for (the building) before it was ever a unified school district," said Mackie McColm, who is active in McCune civic organizations. "Now they're acting like it's theirs. It's not, it belongs to the people of McCune."

Mayor Don Call presented a letter to the school board on Aug. 5 that said the city wants to move its current city hall from the McCune Volunteer Fire Department to the building. The city also needs more housing and a community daycare, and qualifies for several federal and state grant programs for rural low-income municipalities that would provide funds to renovate the building. Those grants require a municipality own the property, the letter said.

Southeast Superintendent Glenn Fortmayer said providing a long-term lease is best for all concerned.

"An empty building doesn't do any of us any good so our board members feel this is a win-win situation for all ..." Wilson said.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com


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