School directors were set to vote Wednesday night on accepting sealed bids, but the property sale was placed on the agenda for May after questions arose about items still stored in the building.
The district uses the Ridge Road school to store records, and board member Mary Jo Kehoe said the building contains “rooms and rooms” of documents.
Kehoe said the records were moved to Ridge Road from Park Road, after that building was sold, and have been there ever since.
The board plans to seek at least $250,000 for the property, based on the appraised value. In the event of a sale, Solicitor Hobart Webster said the best course of action would be to accept sealed bids. The process requires the district to advertise three consecutive weeks before opening bids.
Proceeds from the sale could only be used to satisfy debt obligations or for capital projects, he said.
“What that allows us to do is say to the public, we’re going to sell this property, but only if we get this price that we set, the minimum…This allows us to establish a floor,” Webster said.
Facilities director Gerald Kronstain said it would take at least a month to clear out the building, and it’s not just the items in the building. He said shipments of paper and other supplies are scheduled to come July 1.
“The problem is supplies for next year have already been ordered and are expected to be delivered there,” he said.
Board member James Sas said he doesn't necessarily disagree with selling the building, but doesn't believe the timing is right, considering there is bulk supplies inside and a need for a professional to coordinate the records.
“Until you decide how you’re going to distribute those supplies, which are very large in nature and quantity, including the need for a truck dock in many cases, I don’t know how you’re going to relieve use of this building.”
In the past, board member Scott Angus said the district has rented extra space and stored items at the Ambridge Regional and Distribution Center.
Board Vice President Kim Locher said several years ago the board had a discussion about cleaning out Ridge Road, and an auction was held and the building was cleaned out. “As the years accumulated on, the building filled with stuff again,” Locher said.
“Let’s get the ball rolling and let’s actually do it this time instead of cleaning things out, and making things happen, and then not going through with (the sale) part of it,” Locher said.
Sas asked why the hurry to relinquish the building without a plan, only to create a storage problem.
“You want to do it just because you want to do it right now, and I'm unsure of what the immediacy of that timing is," Sas said. "If indeed you'd like to do it on a more mature time frame, put forth a plan, get the building emptied and prepared for sale, and then advertise the building for sale when you have answers for all your hurdles.”
Board member Rob Keber said the district would save roughly $45,000 per year just in operating costs—water, sewage, gas and insurance. Putting the property back on the tax rolls would provide additional revenue, he said.
Board president Roger Kowal said the matter will be placed on the agenda for next month to give officials a month's time to put a plan together for the records.
"If it costs us $10,000 in overtime to do it, we're still saving $30,000 a year just in utilities by selling that building," Kowal said.