Schools buy land in Bluff

The San Juan School District is purchasing 12.5 acres of ground on the highway west of Bluff as the possible site of a new school. The school board approved $501,500 to purchase the land at the January 20 meeting of the board.
The 12.5 acres of ground are in two parcels on the north side of Highway 191, about one half mile west of the Desert Rose Inn. The land will be purchased from the Simpson family and the Genie Shumway family. The price per acre is approximately $50,000 per acre. School officials state that $50,000 per acre is the going rate for land in the Bluff area.
School board member Merri Shumway, who is a member of the Shumway family, did not participate in the process that resulted in the purchase of the land.
School administrators state that the land will provide adequate space for a new school, including room for several leach fields for a septic system.
There is no space for additional leach fields at the current site of the Bluff School, leaving the facility at risk of closure if the septic system fails.
For the past ten years, the Bluff Community has wrestled with developing a community-wide waste system that would eliminate the individual septic systems. The school district determined that rather than wait for a community-wide system, it would move ahead with the ability to replace the aging school under any scenario.
The new school has been identified as a capital project priority by the board, but a specific timetable for the construction has not yet been set.
In other matters at the January 20 board meeting, officials asked for assistance as the district attempts to secure land for a new gymnasium adjacent to Montezuma Creek Elementary School.
Members of the Aneth Chapter presented a petition asking for school district support for road work in the area. School officials will write a letter of support for the road work and asked that the Chapter help the schools secure the land.
The District has set aside $2 million to construct the gymnasium.
The District held an annual public hearing to review Impact Aid applications and the district Native American policies. A number of area residents discussed the issues, with particular focus on road issues and training for members of the district’s Indian Education Committee (IEC).
The federal government provides approximately $6 million per year in Impact Aid funding. It is to deal with the impact created by the sizeable number of county residents who live on federal land, and as a result, do not pay property taxes.
The Impact Aid is for the approximately 1,400 district students who live on federal land.
Local property taxes generate approximately $7 million in funding for the schools.

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