PIE plans to buy Liberty school facility

Sweet Home Charter School is moving to East Linn Christian Academy’s Liberty Campus while ELCA is in the process of consolidating its campuses and moving the school to Fairview School outside of Lebanon, which shut down this year, school officials said last week.

People Involved in Education is purchasing the former Liberty School. PIE operates Sweet Home Charter School and Sand Ridge Charter School in Lebanon. Members of the PIE board told the District 55 School Board about the deal during a joint meeting held on July 21.

Sweet Home Charter School has rented space from the Church of Christ at 18th and Long for the past three years.

“Our loan has been approved to purchase the Liberty Campus,” said Mary Northern, PIE treasurer and board member.

Closing is Aug. 22.

“They’re moving Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we should be right behind them,” Northern said. PIE has a semi lined up to move, and with the excited parents, she expects there’ll be a large workforce out for the move.

Until the sale is final, ELCA School Board member Jay Horner said, he could not comment much .

“Our overall goal and vision from our founder was always to have the elementary, the junior high and the high school campuses up there at Victory,” he said.

Pending finalization of the sale, ELCA’s elementary school will use the Fairview School campus, which is currently the home of Turning Point Church, located between Sweet Home and Lebanon just north of the intersection of Highway 20 and McDowell Creek Road.

For the 2010-11 school year, the elementary classes would move to the Victory Campus, he said.

The Victory Campus is located in the Rock Hill area outside of Lebanon.

PIE had been working on a deal to buy the Sweet Home Elks Lodge, Northern said, but “the bank wouldn’t go for it.”

The bank was concerned with the amount of construction that would be needed, she said. The Liberty campus will make the move much easier since it is already set up and ready to use as a school, she said.

“We got a school that’s ready to go for $625,000,” she said. PIE has taken out a $625,000 loan with a monthly payment of $5,300. She declined to further explain the details of the financing.

Sweet Home Charter School will pay $75,000 per year in rent to PIE for the facility, she said. The rent will come out of the Charter School’s operating funds.

PIE will use the rent to make the payment, with the excess rent funds held for building maintenance, she said.

The property, 28721 Liberty Road, is 6.78 acres with a real market value of $151,200 for the land and $732,000 for the building, which was built in 1945, a total of $883,200, according to Linn County Assessor’s Office records.

Asked about the potential for voters overturning taxes passed by the Legislature this year, Northern assured the District 55 board that Sweet Home Charter should be in good shape.

The Charter School educates children for less than the district, and it always budgets conservatively, she said.

It had few issues last year while school districts were making cuts, she said. “We were actually in better shape than most of the districts last year.”

The Sweet Home Elks Lodge building is still for sale, said Exalted Ruler Ron Sharrah. “The Grand Lodge has actually mandated we sell.”

The Sweet Home Elks are supposed to downsize their building to match membership, he said, but the Grand Lodge has not yet listed the property with any realtors and the Elks are hoping to make it unnecessary.

The Elks are hoping to increase their membership and activity level to a point the sale will be unnecessary, Sharrah said. “We want to try to encourage membership, participation and growth.”

To sell the building, the Elks would need to make enough to construct a new, smaller building, he said. The poor market for property works in the Sweet Home Elks’ favor, giving them even more time to bolster their membership levels and save their lodge building for the Elks.

Anyone interested in more information about the Elks or joining the Elks may call the lodge at 367-3559 or Sharrah at (541) 231-7303.