FAIRFIELD — Century old Gomer School in Suisun Valley is surplus property and will go up for sale or lease.
The Solano County Board of Education made the decision Wednesday. It also directed county Office of Education staff to return at a future meeting with more information on how the sale or lease of the half-acre Gomer School property might be handled.
“We want to be really sure people understand we’re not going to put it on the market and sell it tomorrow,” Associate Superintendent Lettie Allen said.
At stake is the future of the 1900 one-room schoolhouse with the bell tower that has become a local landmark along Abernathy Road. The Solano County Office of Education has offices in buildings adjacent to the vacant schoolhouse, but is moving them to another location.
Margo McGlone of the Gomer School Historical Association addressed the board. She realizes it’s time for the Office of Education to pass on its guardianship of the property, but hopes Gomer School will be accessible to the public, McGlone said.
The Solano Land Trust has expressed interested in moving its offices from downtown Fairfield to Gomer School and using the old schoolhouse portion as a museum of some type. It or some other nonprofit group might get that chance.
State education law dictates the steps that must be followed to lease or sell surplus school buildings. That could limit the Office of Education’s ability to choose the buyer the board thinks is best suited to own and preserve Gomer School.
But state law also contains a waiver that would allow the Office of Education to sell Gomer School directly to the Solano Land Trust or some local nonprofit group, provided certain conditions are met.
This waiver applies to property that has historical value. Among other things, the buyer must maintain the building for the public as a historical resource with public access. In certain cases, the building can be sold for less than market value. The Solano County Board of Supervisors would have to approve such a waiver.
The Board of Education directed staff to explore the possibility.
Board of Education member Mayrene Bates asked the cost to bring Gomer School up to code. Allen didn’t have an answer. More information should become available in coming months, as the Office of Education takes such steps as having the property appraised.
Gomer School has a tribute of sorts within the Board of Education chamber. The school is the subject of a single, large, color photograph mounted on the wall behind the board dais as part of room’s permanent decor.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.