Joaquin sold for $6.5 million

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    By Bonnie Boyd

    Joaquin Elementary School sold on Monday to developers ArrowStarfor for $6.5 million, and that money may partially go to a one-time teacher bonus.

    ?We don?t have the money yet,? said Shannon Poulsen, Provo District Board of Education president. ?We would like to give teachers some of the profit, but we can?t promise money we don?t have in hand.?

    Although Orem developer ArrowStar closed the bidding, no one is clear as to what will be done with the property or the building. Also, Provo School District could be waiting for up to a year before they receive the money.

    Teachers in the Provo School District have had minimal salaries due to the high cost of living and finance strains on the district, Poulsen said. She added any money that came from the Legislature went straight to benefits, such as early retirement and medical, leaving hardly anything for teacher salaries. The contracts for the 2005-06 school year promised to try and give money from the school?s sale back to a teacher bonus.

    The Provo School District, in a long-term master plan, is attempting to trade off between adequate school buildings and property tax levels.

    ?Joaquin Elementary was sold because we are going through all the schools and evaluating them,? said Poulsen. ?If it is cost effective to renovate and keep up, then we will. However, that was not the case with Joaquin.?

    Joaquin Elementary, built in 1938, was one of the oldest schools in Provo.

    ?In a report we had taken the roof was labeled dangerous,? said Sandy Packard, Vice-President of the Provo School District Board. ?If too much snow accumulated it would collapse. Also, there were security concerns because it was easy for people to come into the school without clearing it with the office.?

    The school is located mostly around BYU housing, which attracts single students, not families with young children. According to the 2004 enrolment data, only 384 students attended Joaquin, but there was enough room for 553 students.

    ?Enrolment had declined and it was very expensive to keep students at Joaquin when fewer schools were needed,? Poulsen said.

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