Former elementary school building will be sold

The former Jennie Rogers Elementary School property on East Main Street will soon be up for sale, and there is speculation that it won’t be on the market very long.

At least four entities are anxiously watching and waiting for news about the sale of Jennie Rogers property — The Blue Grass Community Action Partnership, Danville-Boyle County Early Childhood Alliance, Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership and the city of Danville.

During last week’s Danville School Board meeting, the board voted unanimously to declare the building and land as surplus and to sell it. The board has wanted to sell the property for some time, but needed approval from the Kentucky Department of Education to take such action.

However, there are a few more legal steps to take and a final KDE approval before the board can complete a deal with any prospective buyer, said board attorney Vince Pennington.

Pennington explained that he and Teresa Osborne, who is director of finance/human resources, are researching what outstanding bond issues have liens against the property, and how much of the proceeds of the sale will have be used to pay off those liens. “The good news is … a relatively small portion of the sale would have to be applied to the bond, maybe as small as $20,000.”

The board must also vote on a formal resolution stating that the property is declared as surplus, hopefully by the next meeting. There has to be “magic language from Kentucky Administrative Regulations that needs to be in there,” Pennington said. “Then we would proceed with getting the approval for the process of the sale,” from KDE, he added.

“I was thrilled to hear … we finally got the approval from KDE, which is going to allow this board to move on, and we have prospective buyers,” said board chair Steve Becker. He added though that his “biggest fear was how long they would wait.”
Becker said, “In my opinion, it adds another delay, such is life. We have to do it right. … If you screw it up in the beginning, then it’s a mess to clean it up.”

He added, “I have to be honest, expedience is something that we’re looking for, because I don’t want to lose perspective folks that are very interested in buying the building.”

Danville Boyle County Early Childhood Alliance board member Patten Mahler said they didn’t want to purchase the property, but, “have been involved in highlighting the great potential that Jennie Rogers has as an early childhood learning center. Most recently we have facilitated a conversation between the EDP and Blue Grass Community Action Partnership,” who in turn has developed a facility plan, she said.

Several weeks ago, Blue Grass Community Action Partnership Executive Director Troy Roberts presented the plan to his board which stated, “BGCAP is interested in the purchase of the Jennie Rogers facility. With this facility we plan to provide much-needed daycare to the area.” He added, “The daycare will be the primary business model to support paying for the facility. Other federally funded programs may utilize the facility, but not enough to cover the operational costs.”

Roberts wrote that BGCAP wants to “create a 5 Star” Head Start facility, like the ones it operates in Anderson, Franklin, Jessamine, Mercer, and Woodford counties.” Additionally, the daycare facility will be a learning center and “will provide one of the lowest cost programs in the area.”

BGCAP will also incorporate programs focused toward “family units” where they will be offered free classes on parenting, budgeting, eating healthy on a budget, financial literacy, your role in the child’s education, etc.”

Roberts wrote, “We also look forward to partnering with groups in the community to continue the use of Jennie Rogers for Little League basketball and to create new partnerships to use the facility.”

The EDP also endorses DBCECA’s efforts to create and expand early childhood education in the community. Executive Director Jody Lassiter said the organization “will promote the needs for additional child daycare services and other related programs in the Danville market that directly impacts our local workforce. Like we do with any business prospect, we will also work with potential investors that may wish to purchase the property to provide these services either directly or by lease to a provider.”

Lassiter explained that there is a “market demand for more and higher-quality child care programs in the community. The primary issues preventing multiple child care providers from locating here are the high costs to purchase, lease or renovate a building for use as a child daycare facility. The former Jennie Rogers Elementary building and grounds present a unique opportunity for a ready-made facility to be repurposed for early childhood education programs and services.”

Danville Mayor Mike Perros said the city is interested in purchasing the property as well. “The city is interested in making sure that it is utilized to the best value to the community and is maintained as best as possible for the community.”

When asked if the city wants to purchase Jennie Rogers like it recently bought Walker Hall on Kentucky School for the Deaf campus to control its development, he answered, “That is a potential.”

But unlike Walker Hall, “We do not plan on tearing it down,” Perros said. “It’s a substantial building and it has a lot of life left.”

But the expansive land next to the school, “needs to be utilized. … There is potential for some strategic use.”

He said that lot “needs to be developed.” But that could mean an expanded playground, housing, “or both.”

“We’re trying to be prudent. It’s a large building and large piece of ground and we want what’s best for the community,” Perros said.

He added that the city’s plans may sound “vague” right now, “because we don’t know what the school board is going to do.

No arrangements have been made with anybody for anything.”