Briscoe Property Daily Tidings Guest Opinion
The Briscoe Puzzle
Jim Westrick, School Board Director
As many readers are aware, the Ashland School Board unanimously voted at its October 9th meeting to responsibly divest itself of the Briscoe property on North Main Street. This decision was the culmination of many months of discussion, research, and feedback both within the school district and throughout the community. Although not an easy decision, the school board considered this issue using the same principles that drive all our work: we focused on our mission, our fiduciary responsibility to you, and our desire to be a good community partner.
Does it Align with Our Core Mission?
Ashland schools exist to provide a world-class education to all our students and prepare them to be successful in whatever they choose to pursue later in life. That is our mission. Every successful organization excels only by keeping a relentless focus on its core mission, and our school district is no different. However, because of several factors, including enrollment patterns, deferred maintenance, and the resources needed to provide a 21st century education, the Briscoe building has primarily been a rental property for the past 12 years. Every hour we spend performing the duties of a landlord is an hour that we are not focused on educating kids.
Is it Financially Responsible, both in the Short and Long Terms?
The Ashland community has been generous – time and time again – in supporting our schools and understanding the importance of a quality education. Our school board does not take this for granted; in fact, it is a constant reminder that we need to carefully use the funding entrusted to us in ways that are most impactful to our kids. This requires focusing our financial and human resources to best serve students. The Briscoe building is past its “useful life” and would require somewhere between $6M and $10M of maintenance and repairs to return it to use as a public school. Even if the district had this money available (we don’t!), we feel that district resources would be better spent on facilities that more directly impact Ashland students.
How Can We Be a Good Community Partner?
A key reason that Ashland students excel is due to the support and ongoing partnership between our schools and the community. We can’t do what we do without your help and we try to be a good neighbor in return. We understand that the Briscoe roots run deep. For this reason, in its decision to divest, the school board clearly articulated our desire to keep Briscoe in the public trust. While I would love to promise that it will remain as it is for the next 100 years, I don’t believe anyone could make that promise in good conscience, as there are too many unknowns. But we are doing our best -- the school district has ordered an appraisal of the property and representatives are now actively engaging city officials to explore the ways that the public can retain ownership of this land and still maximize the value of the property to support our mission. We are doing our very best to find the right balance for everyone.
In short, we feel that it is time for the school district to divest itself of the Briscoe property so that we can better focus on our core mission to educate our students and can better use the resources you entrust to us to make the greatest impact we can for our kids. That is our responsibility to you, to our community, and to the students we serve.
There is much more to the Briscoe story than a single article can hold. For more complete Briscoe information, please visit www.ashland.k12.or.us and click “Our Community.”
Jim Westrick has served as a director on the Ashland School Board since 2012.
At its regular meeting on October 9, 2017, the Ashland School Board unanimously voted to approve the resolution below. The district is now actively working with the City of Ashland to pursue the Board's stated goal that the Briscoe property remain in the public trust.
JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT #5 Ashland School District – Ashland, Oregon
Resolution 2017-18 #1B
WHEREAS, the Board-appointed Ashland School District Facilities Committee, the Superintendent and the Finance Director have collaboratively conducted an extensive assessment of the history and condition of the Bris0coe school property over the past 18 months; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Directors has solicited community input through public comment at meetings of the Facilities Committee and the Board, as well as two community forums dedicated to an exploration of possible uses for the property; and
WHEREAS, the Board commissioned an updated demographic study with enrollment projections for the Ashland School District in the coming decade indicating that without open enrollment District student enrollment is expected to decline and with open enrollment it would stay flat or only marginally increase; and
WHEREAS, the condition of Briscoe would require extensive renovation to be usable as a school site by the District; and
WHEREAS, the community has expressed strong interest in maintaining the open space around the school as public park and playground space, and the City of Ashland has a commensurate goal for the community;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the Ashland School District as follows:
ONE: the Board accept the recommendation of the Facilities Committee that the District no longer invest resources in Briscoe beyond maintaining the facility as necessary for the needs of the current tenants;
TWO: the District move towards responsibly divesting the property.
THREE: in so doing, the Board will continue to pursue opportunities for the property to remain in the public trust.
Dated this ninth day of October 2017
Board Chair, Deneice Covert Zeve
Superintendent, Kelly Raymond
At its regular meeting on August 14, 2017 the Ashland School Board received the recommendation from the Facilities Committee regarding the Briscoe property. The Facilities Committee unanimously voted to send the following recommendation to the Board:
The Facilities Committee recommends that the Ashland School District cease investing resources in Briscoe beyond the maintenance required to serve the needs of the current tenants and move towards responsibility divesting the property. The district is encouraged to move on to the needs that are directly responsive to the educational mission.
The school board is considering this recommendation and will vote on this issue at its September or October regular meeting.
Please refer to the complete minutes of the Facilities Committee and School Board meetings for details.
The engineering report is in! CLICK HERE to view the facilities review of the Briscoe building. Note: Part One of the report (Pages 1-14) is the 2005 evaluation. Part Two of the report (beginning on page 15) is the more recent (2017) ZCS engineering report.
The purpose of the ZCS evaluation is to build on the 2005 evaluation and note any changes.
ZCS estimates that construction costs have increased by 60% since the 2005 evaluation.
The 2nd Community Forum to discuss the Briscoe property will be held on Wednesday, June 28th, from 7:00 - 8:30 PM at the Ashland High School Library. For more information, CLICK HERE.
The district has received the updated engineering report regarding Briscoe and is currently reviewing it. This report will be formally presented to the Facilities Committee at its June 14 meeting, then will be posted on the district website.
The next Facilities Committee meeting will be held on June 14, 2017 at 7:00 PM in the district office (885 Siskiyou Blvd.)
Dear Community Members,
Thank you for attending the Briscoe Community Forum held at the Ashland High School Library on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm. The forum was organized by the District and facilitated by former Ashland School District teacher and administrator Dale Rooklyn. We appreciated your thoughtful questions and suggestions for next steps with Briscoe. Remember to post your comments at email@example.com and in the days ahead all of your comments will be posted on this site. Please note the Power Point that was presented last night with background information and next steps is also posted on this website.
We will keep the community informed as to the timeline and next steps. The District expects to receive engineering data on all school sites including Briscoe in June 2017. A second community forum will be scheduled after that report is received. Thank you again for your interest and engagement in this process.
With respect and appreciation,
Ashland School District
Questions and suggestions will be posted here in the next few days as we get them transcribed.
Please check back for those.
Briscoe Forum Presentation
We Want to Hear From You!
In 2003, Briscoe Elementary School was closed due to declining enrollment in Ashland School District. Since then, the property and building have been leased to tenants, including the Oregon Child Development Center and the Lithia Arts Guild, among others.
The Ashland School District is currently reviewing all properties and assets, both in preparation for a potential bond issue in 2018 as well as to identify areas where we can better serve our students. We want to ensure that we are using your money and resources in accordance with the priorities and needs of the entire school community. For this, we need your help!
: A 2nd community forum to discuss the history and future of the Briscoe school property
: June 28, 2017 from 7:00 PM until 8:30 PM
: The Ashland High School Library
Please come share your thoughts and ideas with the Ashland School District administration. We will cover…
What we know…
What we need to hear from you…
- The history of the Briscoe property
- The current revenue and estimate of expenses for the property
- A rough estimate of the deferred maintenance for the building
- The most recent (February 2017) demographers report with a 10-year forecast for Ashland attendance
- **NEW** An engineering report for the building and an updated estimate for renovation/repair
Questions or Ideas? Email Briscoe@ashland.k12.or.us.
- Your thoughts, ideas, feedback, stories…anything that will help us make the best decision possible for all Ashland students!