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LAND LEASE TO BENEFIT 250 STUDENTS

Some 250 students from Littlefield and Beaver Dam, Ariz., will benefit from a 25-year lease that will allow 40 acres of land on the Arizona Strip to be used for a new school.

The agreement was recently signed at BLM offices in St. George.The twin towns are separated by I-15.

The existing school in Littlefield is 75 to 85 years old, a one-room schoolhouse with a collection of mobile housing units serving as classrooms. There are no physical education facilities, showers, vocational or student common areas and they lack appropriate facilities and accompanying curriculum which puts Littlefield/Beaver Dam students at a distinct disadvantage, said Ilene Anderson, BLM branch chief, who was instrumental in recognizing the need and worked with BLM and the Arizona Legislature to get money to build the school.

According to BLM Area Manager, George Cropper, "BLM has been hanging on to this property for a long time, waiting for the time when the community would need it for something like this proposed school."

Under the Recreation and Public Purpose Act, the sale or lease of public land for recreational or public purpose, to state or local governments or qualified nonprofit organizations is authorized.

As soon as the Littlefield/Bea-ver Dam school is built and functioning, the school board may apply for a patent under the Special Pricing Program, allowing them to purchase the land for $10 an acre.

Over the past four years, Lit-tle-field/Beaver Dam has experienced a population explosion similar to that of Mesquite, Nev., and St. George, said Anderson.

Younger families finding employment in Mesquite but no housing available, moved into Littlefield/Beaver Dam where property prices are a bit lower, she said.

The new school will be a comprehensive K-12 program and will utilize the distance education approach and rely on technology to deliver equal educational opportunities for these students. There will be classrooms centered around a satellite or fiber-optics delivery system using interactive television and it will have an integrated media center. The Littlefield/Beaver Dam School is so far removed from the educational systems in the rest of Arizona, that this new technology now makes their educational opportunities comparable with the rest of the state, Kingman School District Superintendent Ralph Star said.

High School students up until this year attended school in Mesquite. This year, due to overcrowding in the Mesquite High School, Littlefield/Beaver Dam students were told they must make other arrangements.

Mohave County Superintendent Ralph Star said construction of the new school facility will begin at the first of 1996 and will be completed in time for students to begin the 1996 school year in September. "If we have more students enroll this year than we anticipate, we will have to make other arrangements," Star said.

Property negotiations began in October of 1994 with the culmination less than a year later. All officials present agreed it had gone much faster than anticipated and all were delighted with the signing of the official lease.