KINGSPORT — Over the past year, Kingsport City Schools has purchased nearly $700,000 in property around its schools, property meant to improve access, parking and space concerns at the various locations.
Last fall, KCS purchased the American Legion building for $327,000 and after letting the veterans organization remain there until it could find a new home, KCS is using the building as its GED training facility.
Earlier this year, KCS purchased two lots on Overlook Road — located behind Jefferson Elementary School — for $45,000 and the First Pentecostal Holiness Church on Park Street — located behind Indian Highland Park — for $140,000.
KCS officials said the Overlook lots would likely be used for staff parking and possible expansion of the school, while the church could be used for storage or office space and help with access to the soccer field during an emergency.
Two weeks ago, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved more property purchases by KCS — another on Overlook and two on Summer Street — located behind Lincoln Elementary School. The purchase price was $14,000 and $166,000 respectively.
The total spent on property over the last year comes to $692,000.
“(The properties) have been part of our long-range plan for years, in terms of potential additions to the campuses,” said Richard Kitzmiller, KCS superintendent. “We’ve not had it on the front burner, but it’s been in our plan for quite a while.”
Kitzmiller said KCS is negotiating with two other property owners on Overlook and said the school system would like to buy the entire length of property behind Jefferson.
“We hope to put together a more formal plan for that. Unofficially, yes it would be a good stretch of property to own, but we’ve not formalized it into a package for bond funding,” Kitzmiller said. “It certainly has been discussed numerous times as a goal.”
The money to purchase the American Legion building came out of the school system’s 2007 operating budget, money Kitzmiller said was unexpected revenue from the state. The other property money has come out of the school system’s fund balance and has not been operating funds.
Kitzmiller said the school system is looking to package, in a more formal way, future property purchases around Lincoln and Jefferson.