School District 20 seeks sale of Sunningdale school

Sunningdale Elementary School in Trail will be going up for sale in April in order to cut down expenses in light of the new budget.

A piece of Trail scholastic nostalgia will be up for sale next month as the 60-year-old Sunningdale Elementary School is being put on the block, almost 10 years after the school district closed its doors.

Now used only for storage and occasional rental to community groups, the building has costed School District No. 20 (Kootenay Columbia) over $10,000 per year since it was replaced in 2003 by Trail Middle School.

On Thursday at Blueberry Creek Community School, the board held a special meeting and passed the first two readings on the bylaw regarding the disposition.

“(Sunningdale) has been a bit of drain on the budget,” said board chair Darrel Ganzert, adding the district was faced with a $1.4 million budget shortfall for the coming year.

SD20 board vice chair Lorraine Manning said Sunday the sale of the school has been an option the board has considered for quite some time, but it wasn’t until recently that the Ministry of Education permitted districts to dispose of unused educational facilities.

Third reading and adoption of the bylaw March 26 will land the former grade 1-7 school on the open market.

“We had to do that in order to get the for sale sign on the property,” Manning said about the bylaw. “Whether we are able to sell it or not remains a question.”

Eight years ago a local church group had approached the school district about purchasing the unused building, but a provincial directive prohibited SD20 from selling at the time. In addition, the building needed significant upgrading to make it compliant with modern standards.

The seven-room school — along with a gymnasium and teachers’ lounge — will be listed for $249,000 through ReMax, and will be sold in “as is” condition.

Only the school and a small strip of property in front of the building are for sale, not the adjoining playing field or the park, which belong to the City of Trail.

The school district will retain 25 per cent of whatever the school is sold for, with the remaining portion going to the province. However, the school district can only use the funds for future capital projects.

“So we can’t use it for operational costs,” Manning said.

In 2011 trustee Mickey Kinakin tried to inject some urgency into the issue, arguing that the district was still maintaining the school even though it had not been used since 2003.

At the time he suggested the board either fire-sale it to the City of Trail or convey it to the ministry to save maintenance costs, but the ministry declined.

— With files from Castlegar News