Kiona-Benton City School District leases former clinic

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMarch 26, 2014 

BENTON CITY -- The Kiona-Benton City School District administration will have a new home come this fall.

The school board voted unanimously this week to sign a 12-year lease for the former clinic building belonging to Prosser General Hospital in downtown Benton City.

The district will pay $350 per month for the building with the option to buy the property when the lease ends.

"This is an opportunity we couldn't pass up," board Chairman Tim Cook told the Herald.

The district's offices have been housed in space behind Kiona-Benton City High School after a portable classroom used at the district's elementary school became unusable because of mold. Kindergarten students were moved into the former district headquarters.

Prosser General moved its Benton City clinic to another building a few years ago and the property at 1105 Dale Ave. has been vacant since. The board has looked at the property since last fall but has been in negotiations with the hospital about the lease terms.

"This has been a long time coming," board member Leslie Johnson said.

The exact square footage of the old clinic building wasn't immediately available but board members said it would provide more space for administrators.

The space currently housing the district's offices was previously used for storage, and can't be used as classroom space for at least three to four more years because of limitations on the state funding that paid for its construction. But Cook said it's important the space be freed up because other uses that benefit students, such as online programs, can be housed there instead.

The clinic property is valued at about $360,000, district officials said. While the price in 12 years can't be predicted, Cook said that it is expected to depreciate during the course of the lease, making it affordable for the district to purchase if that is what a future board wants.

The building will have to undergo some renovations before the district offices can be moved, but Cook said the work would be minor. It's unknown what the renovations would cost.

In other business, the board agreed to retroactively grant a teacher a waiver to teach language arts courses during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years after district administrators learned she was assigned the classes outside her teaching endorsement.

Bonnie Flanagan was assigned the classes by Kiona-Benton City High Principal Wayne Barrett, said Interim Superintendent Wade Haun. Barrett is on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.

Student credits for the classes Flanagan taught those two years won't be considered valid unless the board provides retroactive approval, Haun said. No other teachers have been found to be teaching outside their endorsements, he added.

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