As the Ashland School District gets closer to divesting itself of George A. Briscoe Elementary School, community residents who have specific desires for the future of the property need to practice patience, and district officials need to work hard to keep the public involved in the process.
The former elementary school on North Main Street hasn't housed students since 2004, and likely never will again now that the School Board has voted to unload it. That will get the district out from under millions in deferred maintenance.
The resolution passed unanimously last week accepts the recommendation of the Facilities Committee to stop putting district money into the building beyond maintaining it for the current tenants that lease space there, commits the district to move toward divesting the property, and pledges to work to keep the property "in the public trust." That's appropriate, because public money built the school in the first place and maintained it for years.
A community group was disappointed not to get a clause added to protect the park behind the school building. The School Board was wise not to put too many specific restrictions on the property this early in the process, but it would have been a good idea to better explain the board's thinking on the request.
The School Board has to do what's best for the district while balancing the public interest in preserving a community asset. Making sure the public is kept informed and hearing their concerns is vital going forward.