SANTA FE, N.M. — The Santa Fe school board on Monday unanimously approved the sale of the former Kaune Elementary School to United Way of Santa Fe County for $3.8 million pending approval by the state Department of Finance and Administration.
The school district and non-profit group will continue to be partners after the sale, as the plan for the Kuane property on Monterey Drive, the centerpiece of a small neighborhood, is to base an early learning center at the site. “This is going to potentially provide a resource for early learning extremely needed in the community,” said school board president Linda Trujillo.
United Way of Santa Fe County already bases some of its programs at an early learning center at Agua Fria Elementary’s former building, including its First Born program, which offers free weekly home visits to families with children age 3 or younger. Santa Fe Public Schools also relocated Nye Early Childhood Center, which serves children age 3 to 5 years, many of them with special needs, at the old Agua Fria site.
Katherine Freeman, CEO and president of United Way, said in a phone interview that the plan for Kaune is to re-purpose the facility for early learning and child care for about 200 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years.
“We hope to expand the scope of that over time to offer a lot of professional development for the early childhood workforce,” she said.
Superintendent Joel Boyd said during Monday’s meeting that proceeds from the sale would go toward replenishing cash reserves and for consideration by the school board to use for “improving equity and access throughout the district.”
According to the board’s resolution on the sale, none of the charter schools within the district expressed interest in the property.
In 2010, the school board approved the sale of the Kuane building and approximately 5-acre property to Desert Academy, a private school, for about $4 million, but the deal fell through. The former school, which originally opened in 1949, was closed by the school district in 2010 to reduce operating costs.