After discussing the options for the Arlington Early Learning Center at its Dec. 18 meeting, the Poynette School Board has opted to pursue selling the building and property.

According to District Administrator Matt Shappell, when the school board met last week, officials reviewed three options for the center – keep it open and utilize it for instruction, retain the building until a future need presents itself or explore its sale.

“Arlington has a special place in the heart of the district,” Shappell said via email. “It can be challenging disassociating the memories and experiences of some of our youngest students from the physical structure of the building itself. But when you do, it is fairly obvious that the building needs considerable and expensive renovation to serve as a 21st century learning institution.”

Shappell said district administrators don’t see an instructional need for the building, located on Bullen Road, for the foreseeable future. According to him, the changes made to the district provided by referendum funds, including the addition of the new elementary school, “will more than make up” for the instructional opportunities lost by closing the Arlington building.

Additionally, the most recent facilities study revealed the center is the most expensive building to maintain per square foot for the district.

“Keeping the property will still require maintenance and dollars to keep it from falling into a state of disrepair,” Shappell said. “These additional expenses add to an already stressed budget.”

As for next steps, Shappell anticipates the school board approving a process to select a realtor and get the property appraised within the next few months. He noted that selling the building could provide opportunities for other organizations looking for a site.

“Closing AELC will be bittersweet,” Shappell said, remarking the building has served the district well for over half a century.

Also at the Dec. 18 meeting, the school board discussed its 2020-21 budget, which is anticipated to include additional staff positions for the new elementary school coming online for the 2020-21 academic year.

Shappell said the district expects to add a few more support staff members, including custodial, food service and building and grounds roles. According to Shappell, the board looks forward to seeing the proposed budget with those additional positions incorporated.

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