The Hillsboro R-III School District has entered into a Purchase Sale Agreement to purchase property located at 100 Leon Hall Parkway and the adjoining 15 acres. After a tour of the home and property, the idea was born that it would be a great opportunity for the district to address several issues, including ensuring that all the property from the farm to the High School was owned by the district for immediate use and future growth if needed, while moving the district Central Office onto campus - into what is now the current Learning Center building, which is home to the Alternative School. The move would place the Central Office into the same physical location as the Board Room, as well as be more easily accessible to staff. Additionally, purchasing the 15 acre property would provide space for a “stand alone” Alternative School near the farm, a goal the district has had in mind, but would be cost prohibitive. The Alternative School, which will now be named The Ridge Alternative Program, is home to students in grades 7-12 who struggle to find success in the traditional educational setting. Currently the Alternative School is connected to the Intermediate School, which houses 5th and 6th grades. Moving the Alternative School to its own physical space would allow for students to:
• maintain and upkeep for their “home”
• raising baby fish in the koi pond to transfer to the big pond
• utilize the garage as a multi-purpose area
• utilize the metal outbuilding which has a concrete floor
• learn about the use of solar power and what it means to inhabit a geo-thermal house (the residence is both)
Jim Ramsey, Administrator of the Alternative School, is grateful for the district’s desire to support a vision to invest in the students who are part of the program. In a recent communication thanking the Board of Education, Ramsey wrote, “The opportunities are literally endless. We purposely placed within our handbook the following: In orienteering, hiking, or survival (when a person has lost his way), getting to the top of a ridge can be critical. Getting to the ridge allows a completely new and unobstructed 360-degree view. This new vantage point will allow an individual to gain a new perspective - seeing where he or she has been, and more importantly seeing where he or she needs to go.” Ramsey went on to say, “Moving to the farm literally and figuratively offers our students a new vantage point of perspective and opportunity. One of which is our students knowing that the Superintendent and Board of Education are willing to invest in them as people and to provide them with a very special and unique place to receive their education.”
In addition to the purchase of the property, the district will, upon approval of the Board, be selling the current Central Office location at #5 Ridgewood. The proceeds from that sale will assist in offsetting the costs associated with the purchase of 100 Leon Hall Parkway and any retro-fitting of the spaces.
The property, which includes 15 acres, a home, and an outbuilding, was the residence of Mrs. Diane Hall, former owner of Bridle Ridge Acres, or “Hall Farm” as it was known by many. Mrs. Hall built the home when she sold her equestrian farm to Comtrea in 2012. The property sits adjacent to both the 45-acre Bridle Ridge farm, which the district purchased from Comtrea in July of 2019 and Hillsboro High School.
The asking price on the property and home was $979,000. The district made an offer of $825,000 and it was accepted by the estate. The district will be using a Lease Purchase agreement over a 15 year period to pay for the property and home. The interest rate is 2.19%
The Hillsboro School District utilizes Bridle Ridge for a variety of educational and community purposes. It is the home of the Hillsboro High School Agriculture program, in which high school students earn credit as they learn to care for animals and crops while managing equipment and facilities. Teachers take students to the farm to interact with animals and learn about the land. The junior high and high school cross country teams have established a running course on the property, it has been the venue for district-related social events, the fire department uses it as a training site, and last summer the City of Hillsboro set up a Community Supply Depot to provide supplies and food for residents impacted by Stay at Home orders issued as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hillsboro R-III Superintendent, Dr. Jon Isaacson commented, “We are excited about further expanding the opportunities that the farm has already provided. There is room for growth in the future, if necessary, and room for student use and innovation immediately. The property had been divided in the past with the consideration of building a small subdivision. The purchase of this property ensures that the district and community will have room for a centralized Hillsboro campus for generations to come.”
The District anticipates closing on the property within the next few weeks.