Ringgold to sell closed schools at auction

March 20, 2014
The former Monongahela Elementary Center is one of two closed buildings that Ringgold School District hopes to sell at auction. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

NEW EAGLE – Ringgold School Board is preparing to sell at auction two closed schools that were at the center of a divisive debate over whether the buildings should have been reopened.

The board agreed Wednesday to ask the Monongahela and Donora councils to rezone the school properties in those communities to allow for multifamily residential development on the sites to make them more attractive to potential buyers, said board Vice President William Stein Jr.

“If not, we will sell them as-is,” Stein said following a board meeting that night.

A previous majority on the board drew huge crowds of district residents to meetings after directors voted in January 2012 to reopen the Donora and Monongahela elementary centers, four months after the buildings were closed.

Students were relocated in fall 2011 to a remodeled school in Carroll Township renamed Ringgold Elementary School South.

The decision to reopen the buildings drew threats of secession from taxpayers in Nottingham and Union townships after the board also proposed to reuse the Donora and Monongahela buildings as middle schools.

The majority on the school board changed in late 2012, after a court-appointed director was seated following the death of a director. That board put in place a plan to construct a new, nearly $30 million middle school in Carroll.

Stein said the Donora building would be the most challenging to sell because the property is zoned as a conservancy, which carries many restrictions for its reuse. The Monongahela school is in an area zoned for single-family dwellings.

Directors were disappointed last year to learn the appraisals for the two buildings came in much lower than they expected. The Donora building is worth $150,000, and the one in Monongahela is valued at $110,000.

Stein said the board, at its next meeting, is expected to hire an auctioneer to sell the buildings.

“That’s the intent, to dispose of the properties,” Stein said.

The buildings likely will be demolished in the event they are not sold, he said.

“We can’t just sit and let them rot,” he said.

In other business, the board awarded contracts totalling $1.8 million for repairs and renovations to the high school. The work involves improvements to the auditorium, several restrooms, lockers and the electrical and heating and ventilation systems. The board also wants a security vestibule created at the school’s main entrance.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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