At a Jan. 18 meeting, the RISD board of trustees approved a measure that will allow officials to begin pursuing buyers for a nearly 4.5-acre property at 401 S. Sherman St. that is currently unused by the district.
“This piece of property the district feels is no longer necessary and will bring in some one-time funds that the board could use moving forward,” said Sandra Hayes, assistant superintendent of district operations, at the meeting.
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The property, which the district purchased in 2019, consists of warehouses, Hayes said. She added that the district does not have a “permanent use for the facility or for the land.”
According to Dallas County Appraisal District data, the property, called Sherman Plaza Business Park 2, has a 2023 certified market value of $3.8 million. In 2019, the property was valued at nearly $2.6 million.
According to the language of the agenda item, the potential sale of the property is related to “ongoing strategic planning to address anticipated budget deficiencies.”
In June 2023, the RISD board of trustees adopted a $407.7 million budget for fiscal year 2023-24, which included a nearly $15 million deficit—the fourth consecutive deficit budget adopted by the district. For FY 2024-25, the district expects to have a $47.5 million shortfall due to a lack of increase to public education funding and pandemic-related enrollment decline among other things, according to the district’s website.
In July, the district formed the RISD Community Budget Steering Committee to address the issue. At a Dec. 14 meeting, the committee issued a number of recommendations, including consolidating some elementary schools, opening enrollment outside the district, making departmental cuts, and potentially increasing the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate.
“At the conclusion of this budget process, we expect to have the long-term financial flexibility necessary to provide the resources for our students and educators to continue to thrive,” RISD Superintendent Tabitha Branum said in a Dec. 14 news release.
The approval of the measure allows district officials to publish required legal notices for the sale and to enter into contract negotiations with a potential buyer. Hayes said that any offers would be brought to the board for final approval at an unspecified later date.