Most recently used to house the district’s continuation high school, the Wolfskill School property located at 4895 Bowman Road, near the intersection with Boyce Road, has deteriorated into significant disrepair.
Roy Owens, director of facilities, maintenance and operations for the school district presented his findings about the abandoned property outside the city to the school board at their regular meeting on Thursday, April 5.
“Back in August 2015, both Superintendent Cutler and I were new to the district,” said Owens, “After hearing much about the site as if it were folklore, we got a good look at the conditions.”
In the years since then, Owens has compiled some research about the building and property to prepare the board for an eventual decision about its future.
On March 13, 1873, Theodore Winters sold the original acre to the Wolfskill School District for $1, with the contingency that the property must be used for educational purposes, or be returned to an heir of Winters.
On June 14, 1961, Lucien Richey sold an adjacent 0.7 acre to the district, which has no strings attached.
Owens said he reached out to a descendant of Winters, Kay Winters in Dayton, Nevada, who claims that no one in the family is interested in claiming the property, however, the district would still have to follow a legal process for changing ownership should they sell or lease the property.
Owens also pointed out that some surveying would have to be done since the fence lines do not match the shape of the property lines.
Trustee Mike Olivas asked Owens about the assessment of the structures and a valuation of the buildings and property. Owens replied that an environmental assessment was completed with significant vermin and lead issues to mitigate, but he had no current value estimates from his tenure at the district.
“It is not in great shape. Do we want to keep the property? If the property has the value listed in the paper, is that worthwhile?” asked Cutler.
“My knee jerk would be to not save the buildings,” said Trustee Carrie Green.
She requested that Owens start a process for dealing with the property by the surveying he mentioned and landscape work to improve appearance.
A representative from the Winters Veterans Auxillary, Dorothy O’Neil, commented that the organization is interested in purchasing the building to house their events.
“We should keep the veterans informed of what we are going to do,” said Board President Robert Warren, who was open to the proposition.
For now, Cutler put a bookmark in the property’s story with an uncertain fate.
“It’s something we have to do something about. We can just keep digging for you.”
Amy Christianson from Beacon Services reported her findings for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which is required by the state to receive certain types of funding for school programs.
“The willingness for parents, students, and staff to comment, to make it safe for them to say their opinion, that is a strength for the district,” said Christianson.
By basic metrics, the district is doing well; the vast majority of parents believe the district is preparing students for the future, and students believe their teachers want them to do better.
Some improvements students requested were improved bathrooms, and more hands-on learning and field trips, with less of a reliance on technology for exposure.
Christianson said that there is perception among school parents that there is a lack of communication within the district that could be improved.
High school students were concerned with support for college preparation, especially among students who are the first in their family to pursue higher education.
“In this sense, there may be a disconnect between the have and the have-nots,” said Christianson.
The survey also revealed frustration with the high school capstone project among students.
“They feel it’s a waste of 30 hours because they’re being pushed toward a hobby,” said Christianson.
The LCAP, which uses input from these surveys to determine district goals, will see a public hearing on June 7, before the board considers it for adoption on June 21.
~ Wolfskill Continuation High School students Makeala Morris, Edward Leon-Silva, Isaiah Macias and Stephanie Martinez received board star awards for citizenship and academic achievement.
~ Carolynne Beno, assistant superintendent of the Yolo County Special Education Local Plan Area presented a positive report about the state of special education within the district.
Students are meeting state benchmarks on testing, where many districts fail and there are no disproportionate demographics, meaning the district is doing well at differentiating between needs for special education and language learning support.
“I think it’s really good news, it speaks to the work your special education team is doing,” said Beno.
~ The board approved an increase in developer fees of $0.31 per square foot for residential and $0.05 per square foot for commercial/industrial development. Olivas abstained from the vote due to his occupation as a developer.
~ English teacher Matt Biers-Ariel was approved for half time unpaid leave to enroll in creative writing courses to further his education, on staff recommendation, the board chose not to approve his request for sabbatical financial support for this endeavor.