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Delta Junction pitches school sale near missiles to military

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Delta Junction city and school officials say they would be willing to part with a school building located just a mile from the new missile defense site, if the price is right.

Facing crowded conditions at other schools, the district has decided to reopen Fort Greely School but would prefer to sell it to the military for about $6 million.

City and school representatives met with defense officials Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. John W. Holly, program director for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Joint Program Office, could not be reached for comment later by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Delta Junction officials want to combine proceeds from the sale of the school with $3.5 million in federal funding in hand and an additional $5.4 million anticipated in the next two years to pay for a new elementary school with a cafeteria, gym and media center for K-12 use.

School officials say they need the added school space to meet an expected influx of students.

The decision to offer the school to the military was reached at a joint city council and school board meeting Tuesday.

The school board already had voted to reopen Fort Greely School for the coming school year.

Mayor Roy Gilbertson said he believes the Department of Defense does not want Fort Greely School reopened -- ever.

''Since they chose to go to deployment, the school is just too close,'' Gilbertson said.

For $6 million, the military could have the 54,000 square foot school, civic leaders said.

''They are going to have to be the ones to come up with the money to do it right, and doing it right is bringing them (students) downtown,'' said Councilman Lou Heinbockel.

If Fort Greely School is removed from the district's inventory, said school superintendent Dan Beck, a Delta school has a better chance of state capital improvement funding. The empty school counted against Delta in the last round of evaluations.

Beck said he looks at use of Fort Greely as a temporary solution until new classroom space is constructed in Delta Junction.

Some parents do not want their children near the installation, Beck said, but most accept its use as necessary to ensure quality education.

One option the district may consider is a separate road into the school from the Richardson Highway and a fence that separates the school from the military installation.



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