As construction continues on the $41 million K-12 campus, the Berkshire Board of Education last week voted to auction off Burton Elementary and Berkshire Junior and Senior High School on Nov. 14. The board also agreed to offer Ledgemont Elementary School to Thompson Township Trustees for $1.

Board Treasurer Beth McCaffrey said the auction will be conducted by Mihalic Associates & Auctioneers LLC of Chardon. In June of 2019, she added, McGiffin & Company Inc. appraised Burton Elementary for $500,000 and the high school for $335,000.

“[Scott Mihalic’s] proposal is to charge zero commission, 10 percent buyer’s premium and then donate back 45 percent of that buyer’s premium to the education foundation,” Mrs. McCaffrey said when the board met with Thompson Township Trustees at Ledgemont on Sept. 30. The auctioneer’s bid, she said, was selected from three others.

Berkshire Superintendent John Stoddard fielded a number of questions from Thompson Trustee Frank Sirna, who asked why the board wanted to sell the building to them for $1 instead of hiring a realtor to get more money for it. The transfer would grant the school district access to an abatement fund.

“Our interest wasn’t to profit off the building,” Mr. Stoddard replied, “our interest was to do the right thing and offer the building to the community.”

Instead of trying to sell the building for the $340,000 McGiffin for which appraised it, the superintendent said that the district will instead receive $325,000 back through the elementary school’s abatement fund. That all depends if the Thompson Trustees want the building or not, which they said they will decide in the coming weeks.

“There’s a certain portion of the budget for the new school that’s set aside to abate and demolish the current buildings, and if we do not demolish the building we can use those funds,” Mr. Stoddard explained. “That’s part of the impetus to sell or transfer the properties.”

Mr. Sirna asked if all the structure and infrastructure was included in the agreement, to which the answer was yes. He also questioned the school board about the current state of the structure.

Board member John Manfredi told Mr. Sirna and the other trustees that the district had hired a structural engineer to look at the building and approve it shortly after they acquired it in March of 2015. Since then, he said that the district had put in a new furnace, repaired three different sections of roofing and installed through-wall flashing, a form of waterproofing.

Through Mr. Sirna’s questions, his group also learned that the school board has no objections to who the next owner is or what the structure is used for, nor do they mind if the property is split into multiple lots.

Mr. Stoddard said that the earlier the building is transferred, the better, as that opens up the abatement funds for use on the new joint facility project which started construction last fall. Once complete, it will be right next to the Kent State University Geauga Campus in Burton.

The earliest the board can move out of Ledgemont is September of 2021, Mr. Stoddard said, with construction scheduled to wrap up on the new school next summer.

“I think it could be a real asset,” Mr. Sirna told the Berkshire board. “I think there could be problems if we’ve got a building we can’t do anything in. A couple people have come forward interested in the building. I am interested, that’s all I can say right now. How soon would you have to have a confirmation?”

The district needs to know soon if the township wants the building, Mr. Stoddard said.

The next Thompson Township Trustees meeting is scheduled to take place Oct. 7 at the Thompson Ledges Park Building, 16755 Thompson Road at 7 p.m.

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