The school building is located west of downtown on a major
thoroughfare at 710 Fifth Street.
Mayor Marty Neitzel offered more information saying that the
District 27 School Board had confirmed they were going to close
Jefferson at the end of this school year.
Jefferson is located in Ward 2 of the city. That ward is represented
by Alderman Kathy Horn. Neitzel said it was Horn who brought the
suggestion to purchase the property to the council.
Neitzel said the aldermen are excited about doing this, as is the
police department. While she did not disclose the purchase price of
the property, she said that the city was getting an excellent
bargain from the school district.
She added that the building would require some upgrades and
modifications to make it a proper police station, but even so,
professional estimates indicate the work can be done for a fraction
of the proposed $7 million price tag for a new construction
Horn also commented on the proposed purchase saying that the police
department was indeed excited about this development. She noted that
this would take the department from a 1,200 square foot space in the
Logan County Safety Complex to a space that is well over 10,000
square feet. She said that the building is sound and still has a
long life ahead of it. When the department can move into the
Jefferson school, there would then be adequate space for officer
locker areas, offices, interrogation rooms, and plenty of space for
proper evidence storage. She also noted that the city would not have
a jail at the new location, suspects and prisoners would still be
jailed at the Logan County Safety Complex.
Under the rules of the Open Meetings Act, the city is permitted to
discuss sale and purchase of property in Executive Session. Horn
said she had brought this suggestion to the council in executive
session quite some time ago, but the process takes time. She had
been excited about this prospect and was happy that the time has
finally come that the community can know the city is moving forward
to provide a better environment for the police department.
Neitzel also commented that she was excited that the city was
re-purposing an existing building that does have history for many
residents in the community.
[to top of second column]
On Friday night, District 27
Superintendent Kent Froebe talked about why the school is being
closed. He explained that the school population, on the whole, is
dropping. The school board had taken a hard look at the declining
number of children attending Jefferson and made the decision to
close the school and move those children to Northwest School.
The decision had been made more than a year ago to expand Northwest utilizing
the County School Facilities Sales Tax, commonly called the One Percent Sales
Tax which was passed in 2011.
“Thanks to the County School Facilities Sales Tax, District 27 has been able to
provide major renovations and additions to both Washington-Monroe and Northwest
Schools. The sales tax can only be used for maintaining, renovating and
upgrading existing school facilities, or for new construction. With the start of
the 2016-17 school year, Northwest would have a new front office, library,
computer lab, cafeteria and two new kindergarten classrooms,” Froebe said.
“At our meeting this past Wednesday, the Board adopted a resolution and signed
an Intergovernmental Real Estate Sales Agreement, which was then presented to
city of Lincoln officials. We look forward to potentially turning the keys over
to the city and are optimistic that they would find a good use for the Jefferson
School building and grounds,” Froebe concluded.
It is anticipated that on Tuesday evening at the Committee of the Whole meeting,
aldermen would discuss the draft ordinance and place it on the next voting
session agenda. The motion to approve could then be made as soon as Monday, May
2nd. As is always the case, the council has the right to table an item to a
future voting session, if they feel they are not prepared to take a vote.