Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is now taking bids from organizations interested in leasing any of the nine school buildings CMS plans to close for the 2011-12 school year, and Smith Academy of International Languages is one of the buildings up for grabs.
The K-8 magnet immersion school, whose current building is on Tyvola Road in the SouthPark area, is moving this fall to Waddell High's current facility on Nations Ford Road.
CMS decided to close 11 school buildings and lease nine to help bridge a budget gap projected to be as much as $100 million.
Leasing some of the empty buildings will allow the school system to avoid the costs associated with maintenance, as leaseholders will be responsible for all maintenance and operations of the buildings.
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"Even when the building is not being used, you still have to do some pest management, send a custodian, (air) conditioning to avoid mold," said Dennis LaCaria, director of facilities planning and real estate for CMS. "The extent to which we can avoid those costs, that's mostly what can be used to keep some jobs. But the rent revenue is not really going to ... be a significant impact."
LaCaria said CMS has been getting proposals since it announced the building closings in November, but the official bidding process started last Friday. All proposals must be submitted online, and the deadline is May 13.
CMS has an objective rubric it will use to score the proposals and see who the most successful applicant is, LaCaria said.
CMS is giving first consideration to extensions of existing CMS programs, and priority also is given to bidders who plan to utilize the facility for educational purposes or community use.
President of the Madison Park neighborhood's Homeowners Association Martin Doss said he was concerned when he found out CMS was closing Smith Language Academy's current building because some Madison Park residents have yards that back up to the school property. Doss' home on Londonderry Road faces the school.
"I was concerned if it was going to be another abandoned building boarded up," said Doss. "I think it's better to have the building occupied."
But Doss said it's important for residents that whoever leases the property maintains it.
Specific terms of each lease will be negotiated upon selection of a proposal, and final approval of each lease must be given by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.
The other buildings for lease are: Davidson IB, Midwood High, Pawtuckett Elementary, Amay James Pre-K and Wilson Middle.
The Double Oaks, Plaza Road and Tryon Hills pre-kindergarten centers also are on the list for lease so potential pre-K providers will have time to prepare if CMS decides to close them. The other two schools being closed won't be available for lease since CMS is still using them.
"It's a concern of mine and the district that we continue to be good stewards of the facilities, and one of the best ways to do that is to have them occupied and in use," said LaCaria.