Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the location of next week's meeting and information about residents speaking on the issue.
Woodland Hills School Board will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, to discuss a proposal to sell the administration building in Churchill and move district administrators to new, leased offices in Braddock.
The meeting will be held in the Woodland Hills High School auditorium. To register to speak, call and/or email Tomeka Billingsley at 412-731-1300, ext. 0124 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This is now being billed as a special legislative meeting where the board has the ability to vote on the sale and move to Braddock.
The board decided to postpone voting on the sale Wednesday night after hearing a wide difference of opinion among both residents and school board members—and finding there was misinformation circulating about the proposal.
TREK Development Group of Pittsburgh has offered to buy the administration building at 2430 Greensburg Pike for $625,000. The group would raze the former Churchill Elementary School building and construct a senior citizen apartment building with about 48 units.
TREK is also offering to lease office space to the school district in a new building being constructed on the site of the former UPMC Braddock Hospital. In a letter to the board dated Jan. 15, TREK estimated the total of savings and revenue to the school district over the next 10 years would be $2,036,976.
Currently, the district has no presence in the Braddock community.
Though a motion to approve a sales agreement with TREK was on Wednesday's agenda, school board President Regis Driscoll noted that board members did not yet have the agreement in front of them.
Board members were split on whether to move ahead with the sale. A motion to retain the building was rejected by a 5-3 vote.
Board member Bob Tomasic said the building, which is adjacent to the high school campus, should be kept for future use by the district. Board member Tara Reis said the building is an asset while renting space is a liability. Holding on to the building will save the district from trying to figure out how to pay rent on office space five years from now, she said.
Board member Fred Kuhn said he wanted more information available for the public—and board members Marilyn Messina and Colleen Filiak expressed concerns about the misinformation circulating about the sale.
Messina continued that she is concerned about future revenue for the district—and said that the district will not be getting more money from the state. She pointed out mold issues and leaks in the administration building.
Messina also cautioned the board that their decision on this issue could "divide this district."
Dolores Patterson, a former Churchill Area School Board member, expressed concern about a conflict of interest if the board sells to TREK and then leases from the developer. Wilkins Township Board of Commissioners President Sylvia Martinelli, a member of the district's Ad Hoc Committee, said it was a waste of committee members' time to reject their recommendation to retain the building.
But the plan got support from two Mon Valley Initiative representatives, along with two Braddock officials.
"Businesses, investors and developers from around the country are interested in Braddock," said Tina Doose, Braddock Council president.
She said locating the administrative offices there to a state-of-the-art building would "speak volumes to the community." Mayor John Fetterman added that the offices would be directly across from the police department, offering good security.
"Please, we're asking for you to believe in Braddock," Fetterman said.
Check back with Patch for more details about the proposed sale prior to Wednesday's meeting.
What do you think about selling the administration building and the district leasing office space in Braddock? Let us know in the comments section.