Clearfield School District Mulls Building Purchase

(GantDaily Graphic)

CLEARFIELD – At its meeting Monday night, the Clearfield school board mulled the purchase of the Bowman Masonry Building at the corner of Nichols and Weaver streets and postponed moving forward with the maintenance building until determining the direction of the high school expansion project.

As part of the district-wide feasibility study, the board’s been considering the construction of a new maintenance building at the high school campus. The 4,000-square foot building would cost $741,000 to construct, according to prior reports.

However, during the Clearfield County Fair parade, Rick Bunning, director of buildings and grounds, learned Owner Gary Bowman was interested in selling his Nichols and Weaver Street property. He indicated to Bunning that he could give the board a walk-through of the building.

Superintendent Dr. Thomas B. Otto told the board that on Monday he visited the Bowman building with Bunning and Business Administrator Sam Maney. Bunning photographed their walk-through of the building and presented pictures to the board.

According to Otto, the building is in “very good” shape, and there wasn’t “anything out of the ordinary.” However, he didn’t believe it was the “right timing” for the district to purchase the building and preferred waiting for a clearer financial picture of the high school’s expansion project.

Board President Dave Glass wasn’t disappointed they visited the Bowman building and indicated it generated feedback and information after being in the media. If the district would consolidate into two buildings, they could potentially use those left vacate for storage purposes, he said.

Glass agreed the maintenance vehicles needed housing but discouraged the district from rushing its decision. Board member Larry Putt said he couldn’t find any benefit in purchasing the building and suggested the construction of a pole building, which would equally satisfy the district’s needs.

When asked, Bunning said they’d investigated other buildings in Clearfield, citing they were either overpriced, run-down or in a poor location. Board member Jennifer Wallace, too, agreed that a pole building appeared to be the district’s best option and inquired about the costs involved.

Bunning explained that the district couldn’t receive a “true” estimate for the construction of a pole building until land sampling was completed at the high school campus.

Putt then asked about the possibilities of students from the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center constructing a pole building for the district. Bunning indicated that the Pennsylvania Department of Education didn’t permit this type of construction to be completed by students.

Otto said the district would continue to investigate its options.

During the public comment session, former faculty member Gail Ralston questioned the board members about its plans for a maintenance/central storage facility.

When asked about the logistics of supplies being delivered directly to specific school buildings, Bunning indicated that they were with the exception of bulk purchases of custodial supplies and copier paper. Maney further explained the district purchases a year’s worth of these items so that it reduces its shipping costs.

Ralston asked about the storage of the long-term district records, such as previous school board meeting minutes, and if it would be possible to file them electronically. Otto indicated the district has considered doing so but pointed out money would be spent regardless.

According to Ralston, the Moshannon Valley Area School District has a 4,090-square foot steel building. She said it was constructed of a concrete block foundation, concrete footings and floor, as well as partitions for storage and garage use at an insured value of $117,000, which she realized was not 100 percent of the property value.

“I have nothing against Mr. Bowman or any other business person in Clearfield, but is our tax revenue well spent on acquiring more property and a building (that will need improvements) that is not on one of the two school facilities’ sites?” she asked.

Glass said it, of course, would be “ideal” for the maintenance facility to be located on a school campus, but the district hasn’t found a “cost effective” way to do it. He advised Ralston the board would deliberate further later in the meeting and invited her to remain in attendance.

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