School Sale Causes Problems

Anna L. Mallory, PDT Staff Writer, The Portsmouth Daily Times

MINFORD — The Minford Board of Education has left Harrison Township trustees with the ball regarding the sale of its middle school.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the board chose to table any discussion about auctioning the 79-year-old building and to wait for the trustees to decide one more time if they want to purchase it. The decision came after community members, led by Minford resident Jim Morgan, accused the board of not holding up to its end of the bargain when it built the new schools and promised to hand over the former school to the community.

“Before the (levy) election, it was told as soon as the levy passed, it would be for the community,” Morgan said. “This should have been addressed to the community and it hasn’t. Now, if you were honest and didn’t lie then, we can make arrangements.”
The board defended its intent to have the property used for the betterment of the community, but it is hamstrung by the Ohio Revised Code, which, according to school attorney Alan Lemons, requires the district to sell the six acres to another “political subdivision.”

“I am all for what you guys are doing, but I can’t vote against the Ohio Revised Code,” said board member Troy Huff, who has been working on the issue for nearly two years. “We have been giving the community the opportunity to come to meetings and provide us with options.”

However, the board argues, they have received no viable options for the property that provided a means of payment and upkeep for the school’s land.
Each year, the district spends an estimated $27,304 in upkeep for the building as it sits, including $15,000 in utility costs during winter.

Morgan says he can provide at least 3,000 signatures of people who will back purchase of the building, but, according to the law, he first has to create a non- profit organization. Then, if the trustees were to take ownership of the building, they could turn it over to his organization.

As of Tuesday’s meeting, Morgan had not created such a group. He claims he wanted full cooperation from the five-member board before making his move.

Morgan said he and fellow senior citizens, who have been leasing a wing of the former middle school for $1 in which to meet, want to turn the property into a community center. If created, it could include community dances, basketball tournaments, a head start program and possibly Children Services extension offices, he said.

“We have no financing for this, but we have people who would volunteer money,” he said. “I don’t know whether any of this will follow through, but we’re going to have to do something.”

Board members, with a committee looking into how to handle the property, said it has written letters to both Scioto County Commission and Harrison Township trustees about purchasing the property, but have received no response in that direction.
“Until they come forward and say they want it, we’ve got to move on,” said board member Mark Caudill. “We have done everything as a committee to find an option ... To extend this and give it more time, all we’re doing is ... throwing money down the drain.”

The board’s next regular meeting is set for Oct. 28 in the high school’s media center. If no one is present and willing to purchase the building, the board said it has no choice but to auction the building.

According to state law, once a resolution for auction is made, the board has 30 days.

In other action at the meeting, the board decided to discuss providing playground equipment to seniors from the Madison and Harrison Township for their new senior center.