New Castle News

Closer Look

June 26, 2014

District to sell closed schools, contents

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle school district will advertise for proposals to buy its three just-closed elementary schools.

At a special meeting Monday, the board approved a resolution to seek sealed offers for John F. Kennedy Primary Center on Laurel Boulevard, Thaddeus Stevens Primary Center on East Washington Street and West Side Primary Center on West Washington Street.

The district also is considering an online auction to sell the contents of the three buildings.

District superintendent John J. Sarandrea said he will meet with solicitor Charles Sapienza to determine the specifications and dates for when the proposals for buying the land and buildings will be accepted and opened.

According to the resolution, the board will consider all proposals to determine the highest responsible offer, and it may accept or reject any of them.

The resolution allows the district to proceed with a public auction or private sale, should advertising not yield any acceptable proposals.

The sale of any of the land and buildings will include a deed covenant, restriction and limitation specifying they cannot be used for a public, private or charter school for any grades and that the property will revert to the district’s ownership if that is breached.

All property will be sold “as is” by specialty deed, the resolution notes.

District business manager Joseph Ambrosini proposed the board sell the contents of the buildings at public auction.

The district sold the contents of the kindergarten at St. Joseph School by online auction after the students had moved into the Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center in January. The items were mostly old furniture such as desks and chairs.

“It was extremely successful, doing it on line,” Ambrosini said. “It reduced the manpower we would have needed for a typical auction. Every item got a bid.”

The district used the services of Hostetter Auctions of Beaver Falls, and it would use that company again, he said, noting an auction is a professional service and doesn’t require seeking bids.

The firm charges a 20 percent commission and the district is responsible for the costs of advertising, labor for setup and miscellaneous expenses. The auctioneers do the setup and advertise, Ambrosini said.

The online auction at St. Joseph’s grossed $10,573. The district’s cost, including commission, advertising and setup, was $4,469, leaving the district with $6,104, Ambrosini said.

When the district had an on-site auction of the contents of the former Ben Franklin Junior High a few years ago, not everything sold, he noted.

“We had to pay to rent Dumpsters and throw the leftovers away.

“The exposure for an online auction was far greater than having one physically at the site,” he continued. With the online option, “anyone, anywhere can bid, not just in Lawrence County.”

The auction also will include the sale of old wood and metal shop equipment the district has, he added.


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