Lawrence school district will sell land to Tenants to Homeowners, start process to sell East Heights

Share this post or save for later

The Lawrence school board on Monday voted to sell surplus property to Tenants to Homeowners as well as begin the process to sell East Heights and transfer the student programs held there to one of the elementary schools that will soon close.

As part of the board’s consent agenda for Monday — a list of items that are considered routine and approved with one vote unless a board member or the superintendent pulls an item for further discussion — the board unanimously approved the sale of the property the district owns at 2600 W. 25th St., just north of the athletic fields at Holcom Park.

Jane Eldredge, who is a local planning and zoning lawyer, spoke to the board during public comment, before the consent agenda vote, about her concerns with the sale of the Holcom property. She said she felt the board should take more time to survey Lawrence residents in that area in addition to other community members.

“We hope that because so many people have relied on your special care and control that you will continue to exercise that control — talk with neighbors, talk with the city, talk with Tenants to Homeowners, and come up with some perfectly reasonable restrictions on any deed that you issue,” Eldredge said. “At the very least, we believe that it would be helpful if you would talk with the neighbors.”

Tenants to Homeowners submitted a bid of $1.2 million — nearly three times the low bid — for the land, according to Monday’s board meeting agenda.

The nonprofit community land trust develops and manages permanently affordable homes, including rentals, and provides education on how to be a successful homeowner. Tenants to Homeowners has been looking to expand its housing offerings to the west — out of nearly 125 properties it manages, only a handful of them are west of Iowa Street.

The funds from the sale will now be added to the district’s capital outlay account, which is primarily reserved for the upkeep of buildings, furniture and technology purchases. In other words, money from land sales cannot be used for employee salaries.

The land parcel outlined in red, just north of the athletic facilities and Holcom Park Recreation Center, is currently owned by Lawrence Public Schools. (Screenshot/Douglas County Property Viewer)

• East Heights: Also as part of their consent agenda, the school board unanimously approved the release of a document to authorize the sale of East Heights, which is located at 1430 Haskell Ave. and currently houses the district’s Community Transition (C-Tran) programs.

Since the school board voted to close Pinckney Elementary School, which will take place after the school year ends this week, administrators recommended the C-Tran programs be moved into Pinckney’s building.

To start that process, the board had to approve the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to sell the East Heights building as surplus property. Now that they have done so, the RFP will be processed and brought back to the board at a later date, and the board can choose to accept or reject a bid. If the property is ultimately sold, that money will also be added to the district’s capital outlay account, according to Monday’s board meeting agenda.

In other business:

• Board delays bond refinancing: The board on Monday agreed to postpone a bond refunding sale scheduled for Monday. During their meeting on April 24, the board passed a resolution and agreed to move forward with the refunding of the 2013 and 2014 general obligation (GO) bonds into a new 2023-A bond, with the caveat that the district meets a minimum savings target of $2.5 million.


David Arteberry, of Stifel Public Finance, on Monday reported to the board that the bonds did not meet the school district’s minimum savings target, and he recommended that they wait for a better time and schedule a sale when “the market is good,” he said. The board will reconsider taking action on the bond sale at their next meeting on Monday, June 12, board President Shannon Kimball said.

• Increase in RSP & Associates contract: As part of Monday’s consent agenda, the board unanimously approved a pay increase of $27,500 – an approximate 23% increase from the original contract – to RSP & Associates, the consultant hired by the district to help with its 2023-24 budget planning process. That money will be pulled from the district’s general fund.

RSP & Associates was hired on Aug. 8 on a $120,000 contract to provide enrollment projections and lead the district’s Futures Planning Committee with outlining budget cuts to achieve competitive staff salaries next year. 

Proposing to close schools as part of the budget cut conversation required RSP & Associates to do additional work beyond the contract’s scope, according to the agenda. That additional work entailed meeting with the Boundary Advisory Committee to create new elementary school boundaries and presenting at an additional board meeting, which in turn required an increase to the contract agreement.

The meeting agenda stated that two positions employed by the district last year would have been able to help make projections and create budget scenarios, but due to budget cuts, those positions were contracted out.

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Latest Lawrence news:


Previous Article

Summer reading program to kick off with party at Lawrence Public Library

Next Article

Community-Police Oversight Work Group discusses hopes, concerns at first meeting