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Mothballing Elementary School 'Not Recommended,' School Board Told

Mothballing Lower Milford Elementary School isn't advisable, Southern Lehigh School District's director of support services Todd Bergey told the school board last week.

Note: An earlier published version of this story contained an error. The school that was discussed with regard to "mothballing" is Lower Milford Elementary School. We apologize for any confusion the mistake may have caused.

Although there was no planned discussion about major facilities proposals for two of Southern Lehigh's three elementary schools at the school board's meeting last week, the subject of the schools—which need millions of dollars in upgrades—came up anyway.

One of the topics that was discussed was the option to "mothball" Lower Milford Elementary School, which the district's director of support services Todd Bergey said "is not recommended."

Bergey said mothballing Lower Milford isn't advisable because major systems would need to be kept running, and because data shows that most school districts that have closed off schools for periods of time have torn them down in the end.

Board member John Quigley commented that vandalism could also be an issue.

As board members continued to discuss various topics related to five proposed plans for the future of Hopewell and Lower Milford elementary schools, president Corinne Gunkle urged them to hold their comments until the next meeting, since a discussion about the schools wasn't on Monday's meeting agenda and few members of the public were in attendance.

Gunkle suggested that the board discuss the five plans that remain on the table at its next meeting, and plan to vote on a final option either Feb. 24 or March 10.

She added that she wants all board members to be present for that meeting—whenever it is held—since the decision about whether to possibly close one of the two schools will be a "big" one.

The board held a hearing in the fall that is required whenever a district is considering closing a school. A three-month waiting period that is also required in the wake of the hearing has now nearly elapsed.

District business manager Jeremy Melber refreshed board members and meeting attendees on what the estimated cost is for repairs to both schools.

The estimate for repairs to Lower Milford is about $2 million, and it's estimated that it would cost about $15 million to demolish Hopewell and build a new school to replace it.

The board previously decided that it does not make sense to pay for repairs to Hopewell, since the repairs were forecast to cost nearly as much as the construction of a brand new building.

Information about the five plans for the schools that will be discussed at the next board meeting—which will be held Monday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Southern Lehigh High School conference room—is posted on the Southern Lehigh School District website.

Photo: Patch file photo
Frank Gadek February 22, 2014 at 04:33 PM
Thanks for information. Frank Gadek, LMT Resident since 1974

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