Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 9, 2013

Board discusses high school campus

MVTHS Board met to discuss setting a price for sale or lease of property


MT. VERNON — No action was taken by the Mt. Vernon Township High School Board of Education on Friday night following an executive session to discuss the "setting of a price for the sale or lease of property owned by the public body."

Following a roll call, in which five of the seven board members were in attendance, the board went into executive session.

President Carl Miller announced the board would not be taking any action on the agenda item.

It's assumed by the writing of the agenda item that school officials are considering the sale of some or all of the buildings on the current campus.

FGM architect Greg Brown was present at the meeting, although it was not immediately known what role he plays in the sale or lease of the current campus buildings.

School officials have to decide within a reasonable amount of time what to do with the old buildings — some dating back to the turn of the century — before the premises are vacated. School officials previously announced it has purchased property at the intersection of Wells Bypass and Ambassador roads, and are moving toward a 2015 occupancy date.

Mt. Vernon City Council recently held a discussion about how it would avoid being responsible for disposal of old buildings. The discussion came after the city became responsible for the demolition of Horace Mann School.

"This school was originally District 80 property and we wound up with it for $1," City Councilman David Wood said during a meeting in February. "Depending on the bid process, we will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to take it down. ... We need to be working toward communication and solutions so this type of problem doesn't reoccur."

The facility, after it was deeded to the city, was used as a community center, and was host to several fundraisers as well as a meeting place for the Heartland Young Marines. It has also been used as a storage facility for city property.

In 2009, the city had to close the facility to the public due to finding black mold. An environmental report released last year indicated the building not only has black mold, but friable asbestos, which is more easily released into the air and requires specific abatement procedures during demolition.

Wood said he is concerned the city may be in a similar situation in the future when Mt. Vernon Township High School vacates its existing campus and moves to a new school building to be built on Wells Bypass.

"I know the school districts are another taxing body, but all the money comes from our citizens who are taxpayers," Wood said. "We need to be sure we don't have to spend this kind of money again to tear down a building."

City Manager Ron Neibert said he is working with the city's legal counsel to prepare a recommendation for the council on the issue.

"We want to address how school districts and other taxing bodies get rid of the buildings so it doesn't become a burden on our taxpayers," Neibert said. "There are a couple avenues we can pursue, but I want to evaluate those plans with our legal counsel."

Neibert was expected to have a recommendation prepared for the council this month.