There’s a chance that Highland Primary Center might still be standing at the end of Grove City Area School District’s current construction project.
Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Finch reported at Monday night’s school board work session that the Grove City YMCA approached the district to start a discussion about the agency buying the building.
The demolition of Highland was bid as an alternate part of the $37.6 million project, which includes the expansion and renovation of Hillview Intermediate Center.
Initial plans call for Highland students to be moved to Hillview during the 2020-21 school year, and raze Highland in 2021.
While not set in stone, the demolition was added to the list of alternates because school officials determined that renovating the building would be too costly.
The district had been looking at other options like using the Highland property for an athletics practice field, Finch said.
The YMCA hasn’t made a formal offer or commitment, but they have a high ambition to be the area’s core provider of “crib to preschool” services.
They’re looking for a place to house more early childhood education programs, and they’re reviewing the building reports for Highland.
The maintenance and repairs would cost millions of dollars, a fact that may have some people wondering if the building is salvageable, Finch said.
If Finch continues the discussion with YMCA representatives, he should have board member representation accompany him, said Dr. Constance Nichols, board president.
“I’d like to be a part of that,” Finch said, noting that would include Adam Cook, the Y’s executive director.
Board members Heather Baker and Ray Abplanalp agreed to be part of an ad hoc committee along with Finch.
Nichols asked what would happen if someone else expresses interest in buying the building, and whether there would be any legal ramifications to not demolishing the structure.
Because the demolition was bid as an alternate, that part of the project would have no impact on state funding if there’s a change, Finch said.
District solicitor Andy Evankovich will have to review the legalities of putting school property up for sale, Finch said.
School districts can sell buildings to private companies if they have approval from Common Pleas Court, Evankovich said.
“That takes time,” he said.
Or there can be a public bidding process or auction, meaning that anyone could buy it. The district could also lease the property, he said.
While there are still some unknowns, helping an agency like the YMCA expand its early childhood education offerings could be a game-changer, Finch said.
“How could we not talk about it?” he asked.