Shull-David school up for auction
Shull-David Elementary School, along Beaver Run Road in Lehighton, is one of four elementary schools closing at the end of the 2017-18 school year. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS
One of Lehighton Area School District’s two remaining unused elementary school buildings will go up for sale on July 15.
The district will auction off Shull-David Elementary School beginning at 1 p.m. at the administration office, 1000 Union St. Behavioral Health Associates, a local alternative education provider, has submitted a pre-bid of $400,000, which will be the minimum the school could sell for at the auction.
The motion to put the school on the public auction block and accept BHA’s pre-bid passed by a 5-4 vote at Monday night’s school board meeting. Andrew Yenser, Wayne Wentz, Larry Stern, Steve Holland and Rita Spinelli approved the measure, while Joy Beers, David Bradley, Gail Maholick and Richard Beltz were in opposition.
“To have an auction in July is super fast,” Beers said of her dissent. “Anyone who might be interested in a commercial property is going to have their own process, and that’s going to take time. I think we should give them that time to arrange a bid and participate in this.”
Shull-David, 200 Beaver Run Road, is one of four elementary schools that closed when Lehighton opened its new elementary center in the fall of 2018.
Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver said the school has been for sale for over a year with minimal interest. A handful of commercial real estate agents, including those from the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia area, have brought clients through the building to no avail. Meanwhile, the district is paying around $50,000 a year to keep the building open.
“Those who have toured it have said they are not interested because it needs too much work,” Spinelli said. “We have someone now who has interest and I don’t think we should pass that up.”
Bradley, who for months has took issue with how the building has been advertised, said Monday BHA’s pre-bid is in stark contrast to the number on the property’s appraisal, which is around $750,000.
Several times during the meeting, he said the district was taking “pennies on the dollar” to unload the building.
“This is a travesty to the taxpayers,” Bradley said. “Their money is being wasted.”
In November 2017, Lehighton sold East Penn and Mahoning elementary schools for $350,000 each, also at public auction. BHA was the successful bidder for Mahoning, where it now runs the Mahoning Valley Academy for grades 7 through 12.
Beers and Bradley unsuccessfully urged the board to push the auction date back to October or December.
Cleaver said he couldn’t say for sure BHA wouldn’t be interested in the school if that took place, but he was under the understanding they hoped to be up and running at Shull-David in the fall, if they were the successful bidder.
“An appraisal is just that,” Spinelli said. “A building is only worth what someone will pay for it. This is what they are willing to pay and other people have the opportunity to bid higher. Sooner or later you have to take what someone is willing to pay and this, in my opinion, is a decent offer.”
Minimum bid increase increments at the auction will be $2,500, according to bid specifications. The property is being sold “as is,” but will not include cafeteria tables, dry erase/whiteboards, modular classroom, U-shaped student and teacher desks, round/rectangular student tables, file cabinets and folding chairs.
Franklin Elementary School will be the lone remaining unused school following the auction.