The future of Myrtle Hall IV elementary school building on Fifth Street and the old Clarksdale High School on School Street and the role they will play in Clarksdale’s future are still in question.
The Clarksdale Municipal School District has been attempting to get rid of both buildings for several months, but Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School has first right of refusal. If Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School does not want the buildings, the CMSD can bid both properties.
CMSD board attorney Carlos Palmer provided an update on where the communication was with Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School executive director Amanda Johnson at Thursday’s meeting.
“We gave an initial deadline, but there has been no deadline since the initial letter that I sent to Ms. Johnson,” Palmer said. “She was supposed to have gotten up with or establish a meeting with our superintendent, but apparently, that hasn’t happened. Either I can reach back out to her or the superintendent can reach out to her, whatever the board’s pleasure is. I don’t know why that hasn’t happened yet.”
Board member Joan Morris talked about financial issues involved.
“This is costing us money to keep these properties and we’ve got to give a cutoff date to them, in my opinion,” Morris said. “Because if they can’t give us a date, then can we go on with the process with somebody else?”
“I’m not in position to answer that question right now, but I can certainly look into it.” Palmer replied. “But the initial letter that I sent her was to get up or meet with Superintendent (Dr. Earl Joe Nelson), I think it was February 12. Somewhere around there.”
Palmer said Johnson did express interest in the properties.
“Can we not write a letter and say, since she hasn’t, does that mean she changed her mind or something? Morris said. “We need to know something.”
“I’ll follow up with her,” Palmer replied.
After the matter was tabled, board member H. Clay Sandy Stillions addressed more issues.
“We ran up against a deadline a couple months ago,” Stillions said. “I would recommend that in proceeding through this, we consider – I’m not proposing right now a day – a date for a cutoff. Because this process is going to come back. The reason it died other than not having a decision from them was that time ran out on applying for grants that both developers were going to need to go.
“We need to establish, if they are interested, a cutoff on, ‘If we do not have an acceptable offer by, then we move on.’”
Palmer said he did everything the board instructed him to do.
“We had everything in the paper timely in order to address it subject to,” Palmer said. “But when they give a response that kind of messed up the process.”
Responding to a query from board member Bishop Zedric Clayton, Palmer said the statute allowing Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School first right of refusal does not give a cutoff time.
“In the meantime, sort of, we’re maintaining two properties that are expensive to maintain,” Stillions said. “One is beyond help. The other is, if this drags on these people lose interest, we’re depriving our community of some outstanding development that would be great for the community and preserve the building and all of that. We’re paying insurance and maintenance.”
Palmer said he would be looking at all the options.
“If legal options have to be pursued and the board wishes to pursue those options, we can do that well,” Palmer said.