Branchport school building is for sale

Gwen Chamberlain

The Penn Yan School Board has agreed to sell the Branchport elementary school building, which has not been used by the school district for several years. Most recently, through the 2007-08 school year, the Marcus Whitman School District leased the building for an environmental-based program.

By agreeing to dispose of the property, the school board, which met Dec. 10, began a process that includes some legal steps with an option for the public to seek a referendum. The district must get an appraisal before determining a price, according to Superintendent Ann Orman.

The sale of the building does not require voter approval. However, district residents could force the district to hold a referendum.

Superintendent Ann Orman explains that once an offer is received from a potential buyer, the school district voters have 30 days to file a petition with the signatures of at least 10 percent of the district voters seeking an official vote.

Orman says the district has received some inquiries about the building, but she’s not sure how serious the potential buyers could be.

Before the board voted on the future of the building, two representatives from the Yates County Youth Soccer League asked the board to allow the league to continue using the field.

Orman said the school district will be willing to work out an agreement with the group, but if the property is sold, the soccer league will need to negotiate with the new owner.

Other business at last week’s meeting included:

• LIBERTY STREET PROPERTY: The board agreed to seek voter approval to purchase property at 524 Liberty Street at a cost of up to $65,000.The board set a speical election for Feb. 10, 2009 from 2 to 8 p.m.

“We have been looking at property adjacent to the school. We’re not planning to use it for anything now. We will demolish the building and use the space for parking or tennis courts,” says Orman.

• CAPITAL PROJECT: The capital project at Penn Yan Academy is still on schedule and the kitchen staff will move into their new space next week, reports Orman.

Last week, school staff and students participated in a tree topping ceremony at the Court Street side of the building. A potted evergreen was placed on the last major beam put into place on the media center addition on the building’s south side. The tree is adorned with orange and blue lights and a U.S. flag. Placing a small evergreen at the top of a newly constructed building is a tradition that pre-dates steel beam construction. Orman says the school staff and students shared coffee, hot chocolate, donuts and pizza with the construction workers following the ceremony.

• ENGINEERING?CLUB: The board approved the creation of an Engineering Club at Penn Yan Academy.

• JOINT FEASIBILITY STUDY: The board approved a resolution authorizing a study with the village of Penn Yan and Yates County to look at the possibility of a joint facility for the storage of fuel, storage and maintenance of equipment.

• RESIGNATION: The board accepted a resignation for retirement submitted by Christine Huggler-Wyant, an elementary teacher who has been employed in the district since 1988.