Land swap means a new school in Bluff is closer

A new elementary school in Bluff is closer to reality after the San Juan School Board approved a trade of land on April 4.
With a 5-0 vote, the board approved a land swap with the Utah Navajo Trust Fund (UNTF). Five acres of ground in Monument Valley, which is currently owned by the school district, will be traded for 24 acres of ground in Bluff, which is currently owned by the UNTF.
With the trade, the school district will then be able to move ahead with plans to replace the aging Bluff Elementary School.
The existing school is more than 50 years old and uses an aging septic system that could fail.
Superintendent Ron Nielson said the UNTF is expected to meet in coming weeks to approve the transfer.
Nielson suggested that the UNTF approval is a formality. He said the process for the land swap has been very public and added that there has been overwhelming support for the idea.
The land in Bluff is located on the Bluff fairgrounds and is within the community.
In January, 2015, the school district purchased 12.5 acres of ground on the western edge of Bluff for a possible school site.
A number of groups opposed use of the site because of archaeological findings that were located near the site, including human remains.
The five acres of ground in Monument Valley includes the site of the Monument Valley Clinic, which is operated by Utah Navajo Health Systems.
The facility is on land that was leased from the school district.
Appraisals of the two properties showed that they are roughly of equal value.
In other school district news, Julie Holt is the new elementary director for the schools. She is currently the principal at Monticello Elementary School.
There are principal openings at Monticello and Blanding elementary schools.

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