The Ashland School District hasn't decided exactly what to do with the former Briscoe Elementary School, but administrators have settled on one thing: Free the district from financial responsibility for years of deferred maintenance by unloading the property.
Exactly how that will happen — or what entity will wind up with the building and grounds — remains to be seen. But divesting itself of Briscoe is the only thing that makes sense at this point.
The district has brought in an average of $147,000 per year in lease payments from two nonprofit groups that occupy half the building. But deferred maintenance totals an estimated $10 million or more. That work would need to be done to use the building as a school again, but more than 10 years after it last housed students, there is little chance it will be needed for that purpose again, given the Ashland district's demographics.
The district's facilities committee unanimously recommended the district maintain it for the current tenants but explore options to get rid of it, and Superintendent Kelly Raymond agrees.
There is strong community support for keeping the property in public hands, which seems the best option. The grounds provide substantial open space in a residential neighborhood, and the playground continues to be a neighborhood resource.
The School Board agrees Briscoe should stay in the public trust, and the city Parks and Recreation Commission has agreed to work toward a mutually beneficial solution. City leaders should do everything they can to make that happen.