WELLSBURG — After holding a public auction Monday for property at state Route 2 and 26th Street once used by the district’s alternative learning center, Brooke County school officials are exploring the future of another former school building.
A bid of $100,000 was submitted by local businessman Howard Armstrong for the doublewide trailer and the small lot on which it sits. Armstrong said he was considering various options for the site.
He was the only person to bid on the property, which once was used for night classes held by the school district’s Alternative Learning Center and years ago was occupied by Washington School.
Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Crook said because no one submitted the minimum bid of $250,000, the school board may consider holding a second auction with Armstrong’s offer as the minimum bid.
The matter is expected to come before the board at its next regular meeting at 5 p.m. June 14 at the board’s office at 1201 Pleasant Ave.
The property was the fourth of the school district’s to go up for bid in recent years.
The former Lauretta B. Millsop Primary School in Weirton, Follansbee Middle School and Beech Bottom Primary school were each sold through public auctions.
The sales netted $547,000 for the school district but also saved it in costs to maintain and insure the buildings.
An online auction for thousands of school materials, including furniture and tools used in the high school’s career technical program, generated about $21,000 while leaving empty the former Colliers Primary School where they had been stored.
It and the three other schools were closed in 2018 when the school district was consolidated into four primary schools and one middle school.
Following Monday’s auction, Crook said plans to sell the Colliers school have been delayed by a search for heirs of the Colliers family said to have donated the property for a school there in the 1920s.
That school was replaced in 1985 by the present building at the same site near the intersection of Harmon Creek and Mechling Hill roads.
Crook said it’s not clear whether its ownership must be reverted to the donor if it is no longer used for a school. He said even if it’s not, the school board may consider doing that anyway.
Crook was asked if there is still talk of the board’s staff moving into the former Wellsburg Middle School and possibly selling its own offices at the corner of Pleasant Avenue and state Route 2.
He said such plans can best be described as tentative.
“We have to balance whether it would cost more than what we would get out of it (sale of the building),” Crook said.
He said establishing computer servers to state offices are among renovations that will be needed for the middle school to serve the board’s needs.
Crook was asked if the sale of property has helped the school district to offset a $3.2 million per year shortfall in the school district’s five-year operating levy.
“Every little bit helps,” said Crook, who noted the school district will enter the 2021 fiscal year off the state Department of Education’s financial watch list but with no funds not allocated for a specific expense.
He said measures taken to offset the shortfall included postponing major repairs and improvements to facilities and the replacement of school buses as well as cuts to staff.
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