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Bemidji School Board to vote on purchase agreement for downtown bank building

The Bemidji School District is looking to house three of its programs under one roof.

The school board will vote Monday on a purchase agreement to buy the old First National Bank building, located at 502 Minnesota Ave. N.W., for $700,000.

The board will meet 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, in the Bemidji High School Media Center.

The district currently leases three separate buildings for its Beltrami Youth Learning and Working, alternative education and adult education programs. The current owners of the BYLaW building sent the district a letter asking them to vacate the premise.

"We checked several different properties," said Chris Leinen, the school district's director of business services. "The bank caught our attention."

According to Leinen, the bank building is capable of handling all three programs, consequently lowering the district's monthly payments.

"We levy tax dollars to rent these three locations," Leinen said. "By bringing them under one roof, we decrease the amount of levy in taxes."

Monday's school board meeting marks the first official step in the purchase of the old bank building.

"The whole concept has had plenty of discussion between parties," Leinen said. "We looked at several different properties before this and this was the most desirable and functional."

The draft agreement was prepared on behalf of the School District by the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney. The actual agreement will be presented as a handout at the meeting.

Special meeting set

The Bemidji School Board will meet in a closed session following the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, in the Bemidji High School Media Center to discuss negotiation strategies.