ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County School Board voted unanimously to sell Range Elementary School to the highest bidder in an online auction conducted by the Royston Auction Co. The winning bid was $93,000 for the 16,000- square-foot building and 2.8 acre lot in Watauga.
In a separate auction, the school system also accepted the total bids of $4,062.21 for 41 different lots of furnishings and landscaping for the old school. There was disappointment that a walk-in freezer only garnered a bid of $1,400. The school system had purchased the unit for $23,000. There was a small discussion among the board and school system staff about the impact of not accepting that bid, but the freezer requires three-phase power and other factors make it difficult to install in another school in the system.
The vote to accept the bids was 7-0, with board member Bobby Blevins absent.
The identity of the successful bidder will remain confidential until the deal is closed. Director of Schools Kevin Ward said he has been told the bidder is someone who should be readily accepted in the community.
The decision was made by the board to close the school at the end of the last school year as a money saving measure. Ward had told the board the closure will save the school system more than $300,000 this year. That was an attractive proposition as the school board struggled to make cuts that included one-time cuts of $600,000.
The system’s Long Range Facilities Plan indicated there were only 94 students enrolled in the school. The next smallest was Little Milligan with 132 students. Most of the Range students are attending Central Elementary this year.
The selling of the school building will ease the system’s financial burden further by eliminating bills for electricity and gas to the school and eliminate the maintenance on an unused building which had recently had some vandalism.
The one-story brick school building was erected in 1963. Range began in 1843 when Jonathan Range offered an old log cabin that was being used for a sheep shed to be used as a community school.