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Shull-David, Franklin schools still up for sale

Published August 31. 2018 12:23PM

For the second time this year, Lehighton Area School District is making an official pitch to sell its two remaining elementary schools.

Lehighton’s school board unanimously voted Monday night to list Shull-David and Franklin elementary schools as “available” in commercial real estate publications throughout eastern Pennsylvania.

Two individuals have expressed interest in at least one of the schools, Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver said.

To date, however, the district has not made a decision on how it would sell the schools. Options include a private sale, which would require two separate appraisals on each building, or a public auction, which doesn’t require an appraisal.

The board’s agreement to accept letters of interest for the schools came after a 5-4 vote to deny a motion from director David Bradley that would have set a minimum time frame of six months for the advertisement.

“That would give us time to advertise to a wide range of geographical areas,” Bradley said. “I think six months gives a commercial business time to get an investment together, fill out a business plan and research the demographics.”

Others, however, disagreed, arguing that a buyer with a reasonable offer could come along sooner and not be willing to wait the full six months.

“If someone comes and offers us $700,000 and has to wait six months, they might change their mind and then we just blew that money,” Director Steve Holland said.

When it comes to Franklin Elementary, the district still doesn’t know the exact boundaries of the property it would be selling. The district transferred recreational fields, known collectively as Christman Field, to Franklin Township, which is paying to subdivide the land from the parcel which currently contains the school.

“Let the supervisors do the subdivision and we can act from there on,” board member Wayne Wentz said.

After the subdivision is complete, the district would also need to get a revised appraisal of the property.

The board also passed a motion in April authorizing district administration to solicit proposals for the sale of Shull-David and Franklin.

The schools are available because Lehighton is moving into a new elementary center beginning Tuesday.

Mahoning and East Penn elementary schools were sold last year at public auction for $350,000 each. Behavioral Health Associates bought Mahoning, while Duane and Lavona Schleicher purchased East Penn Elementary and plan on turning it into an adult living complex.

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