Lehighton to auction two schools
The future of two of Lehighton Area School District’s elementary schools became clearer Monday night.
Lehighton’s school board voted 7-1 to hold an auction Nov. 1 for the sale of Mahoning and East Penn elementary schools.
With a new elementary center set to open for the 2018-19 school year, Lehighton has been listening to offers for purchase or lease of its four existing elementary schools, each of which will close following this school year.
On Monday, the district accepted one pre-bid for each property. Duane and Lavona Schleicher bid $350,000 on East Penn, while Behavioral Health Associates bid $350,000 on Mahoning.
According to Lehighton solicitor William Schwab, they will be considered the floor bids at the Nov. 1 auction. No additional bids will be accepted less than $352,500.
The auction will start at 10 a.m. at the district administration building,
Possession and closing will be held following the 2017-18 school year for both buildings.
“We had a number of different people look at the buildings and pass on them for various reasons,” Schwab said. “There is no public water or sewer at either of the schools. These are the only two offers we received so far. Unless the public or anyone else comes in with a higher bid, the buildings will be sold to those respective bidders.”
The Pennsylvania School Code requires the auction to be held, but one board member, Richard Beltz, feels things are moving too quickly.
“Wait until the end of the school year to advertise it and that way the whole eastern side of Pennsylvania can have a chance to see this for sale,” Beltz said. “There is no reason to rush into selling these buildings. You may get a buyer at a much higher rate.”
Contrastingly, director Larry Stern said this path has been the district’s plan all along.
“For several years we have stayed on this track,” Stern said. “The renovations to the middle and high schools have occurred, the elementary center is half finished and the next step in the business plan are these sales to complete the process.”
Gail Maholick, who will be on the school board ballot in November, asked for the assessed values of the elementary schools.
While Schwab did not have the exact figures, he said he believed they were “around $375,390.”
“East Penn is higher than Mahoning because there is more acreage,” he added. “Mahoning is a bigger school though in terms of square footage.”
Director Andrew Yenser concurred with Stern, noting that one of the biggest pieces of advice the district got when going through the transition to an elementary center was to not hold on to the existing elementary buildings when an opportunity presented itself.