COOLIDGE — The historic former Kenilworth School has often shifted roles over the decades, and is once again in the process of changing tenants. The most likely outcome is that the building will switch from the Calvary Chapel church to the New Destiny Christian Center.

During its latest meeting, the Coolidge Unified School District board discussed the future of the property, first built in 1912, after its latest tenants moved out during the pandemic.

“The Calvary Chapel church were great tenants,” said Director of Business Services Alyssa Garrett. “It is in the best shape it can be. But they have since moved out. It’s a unique facility, but sitting vacant, that property is a liability to the district.”

Both Garrett and Superintendent Charie Wallace expressed a desire to lease the building to New Destiny Christian Center, which currently uses the cafeteria at the Coolidge Alternative Program. The district is currently planning to move the middle school program to the CAP school.

“They have been great tenants,” Garrett said of New Destiny. “They improved conditions, it is beautiful in that cafeteria, and they are very interested in relocating out to Kenilworth. I think that would be a great move for the district.”

In 2015, the property was appraised at $275,000. If the district did decide to sell, it would have to determine a new valuation. However, Coolidge voters already approved of the site’s potential sale. Wallace said that there are several interested potential buyers.

Board member Linda Heath said it would “break my heart to have it sold off and become a subdivision.”

During a presentation on final budget revisions, Garrett noted that the district had lost 87 students since the beginning of the year, with enrollment dropping to below 2,000 overall.

As a result, the district reduced its expected budget by around $420,000. The district had already lost almost $1 million in funding due to enrollment drop-offs in 2020.

Garrett said that the district expected some of those students, who were not participating in online learning, to return for in-person classes, but that those numbers would not be known until later in the summer. According to Garrett, any budget increase from returning students would have to be reflected in the next school year.

The district is still eligible for COVID-19-related federal funding, for things such as social distancing requirements or nursing supplies.

As they do each year, the board recognized outgoing staff, many of them retiring after decades of service to the school district. They are: Carmen Quintero, second grade teacher at West School; Justin Flowers, teacher at the Coolidge Alternative Program; Carmen Navarro, a migrant teacher for the district; and Diana Mattingly, registrar at Coolidge High School and Coolidge Junior High School.

An administrative assistant at West Elementary, Mary Easley, was also recognized after resigning due to personal reasons. Wallace said the board was “sending positive thoughts her way” and described her as “a dedicated and committed employee.”

Students who received outstanding character awards are eighth grader Jessica Hernandez, seventh grader Aubryna Valenzuela, fifth grader Belen Carreto, fifth grader Mateo Longoria and second grader Jonathan Carrisalez.

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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