Grove City Area School District has taken the next step toward the proposed closure of Highland Primary Center.

A public hearing was held on Monday night at the district’s main office; it lasted about 15 minutes and was conducted by Andrew Evankovich, the district’s solicitor.

The hearing was not the time to decide what to do with the building, which can close any time after May 3, he said.

Staff members would receive notices about the closure, and the district is planning on sending Highland students to the Hillview Elementary School at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Highland currently houses students in kindergarten and first grade, and Hillview, grades two through five. An addition to Hillview has been completed, and renovations of the existing building are ongoing.

No staff will be furloughed with the close of Highland, Evankovich said.

He noted that written testimony for the hearing will be accepted through Feb. 7. Contact Kim Buchanan, board secretary and business manager, at 724-458-7993, extension 2113, or kim.buchanan@gcasdk12.org

Construction plans include the possible demolition of the Highland building, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Finch said.

School officials have said that the Grove City YMCA is interested in taking over the building in order to expand its early childhood education program.

Two residents spoke during the hearing. Esther Falcetta urged the board to examine all potential uses of the building moving forward.

She has heard of other school districts repurposing school buildings for things like higher education or community programs.

If the YMCA thinks it can use the building, then so can the district, she said.

Falcetta suggested that the district form an advisory committee to take a closer look at the issue.

There are all kinds of possibilities, and she believes that school staff, students and community members will have some good ideas.

Carolyn Oppenheimer, a former school board member, said she believes that no one is close to buying the property.

She approves of moving the Highland students to Hillview, and she thinks the district should do some advertising to attract more potential buyers for the building, which she feels is “sound with some maintenance needs.”

The district should try to sell or lease the building, not demolish it, Oppenheimer said.

Once the 90-day time period has passed – bringing the process to May 3, board members can deliberate the possible closure, Evankovich said.

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