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Land for schools a bargain
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 13:21

The Camp Verde Unified School District has purchased 75 acres of land in the Coconino National Forest to set aside for new schools when the need arises. The price: $750.

No, the school district doesn’t have a time machine. The U.S. Forest Service sold the land under a 2000 law called the Forest Service Educational Land Grants Act.

“It’s a very good deal,” said CVUSD Superintendent Jeff Van Handel, Ph.D. “The intent is to eventually build a second K-12 campus.”
The new site would eventually house 1,650 additional students, according to the school district.

Van Handel said that the district spent an additional $50,000 on environmental studies at the site, but that price is minute compared to the estimated $2.25 million the land would have cost on the open market.
Van Handel said that based on enrollment projections and predicted housing market performance, the district could be eligible to build a new campus in 2011.

The 75 acres at Quarterhorse Lane and South Verde Park Drive are adjacent to land being considered for a new park by the Town of Camp Verde, a fact that appealed to the Forest Service when officials were reviewing the school district’s grant application, said Judy Adams, with the Land Staff of the Coconino National Forest’s Red Rock Ranger District.

While the park project may be temporarily stalled, the school district is still going ahead with the purchase.

Even though the land is owned by the Forest Service, Adams said the character of the land was more “community than wildland.”

The law recognizes that in some places in Arizona it’s difficult and prohibitively expensive for school boards to obtain new land.

“This creates a relatively streamlined process for schools to use forest land where it’s available,” Adams said.

Of course, there is a catch. The land can only be used for public school buildings, and if the district ever stops using the land for schools, ownership reverts back to the forest service.

The school district applied for the land grant in 2004 under the direction of former CVUSD Superintendent Ron Maughan. The district is also seeking a grant for an additional 20 acres adjacent to the current campus on Camp Lincoln Road, Adams said.

Under the law, the forest service can transfer no more than 80 acres at one site.

A ceremony at the site is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 5


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