Wilmington School Board granted authority to sell old school

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WILMINGTON >> The School Board has authority to move ahead with selling the former Twin Valley High School building after a 93-58 vote Thursday. But there is no buyer.

The Wilmington School Board was hopeful one interested developer would submit a bid that included plans for a community center when a request for proposals was issued. When only one bid came in and did not meet the board's criteria, the majority of the board still supported an affirmative vote while speaking at an informational meeting held a week before the vote.

"We recognize the property's technically an asset of the residents of Wilmington and the School Board feels strongly that whatever happens with this property has to enhance the town," School Board Chairman Phil Taylor told attendees, some of whom were concerned about a lack of plan for the building. "We want assurance that the next owner is going to be responsible and we're not just going to give the building away to anyone."

The difficulty in finding a buyer and having negotiations with developers while a vote mandated by state law still loomed over their heads was noted by Taylor. He was still hopeful about housing a community center in the building or at the least, having access to the gymnasium. A deed restriction would still allow activities to continue on Hayford Field.

School Board member Adam Grinold had said he did not want to be responsible for deciding what the facility would be used for in the future. He was the only board member opposed to the article.

But a vote denying the board power to transfer ownership would only delay the Wilmington School District from divesting itself of the property, argued School Board member Kathy Larsen.

The school was closed for educational purposes after Wilmington and Whitingham districts consolidated their schools. A facility in Whitingham was renovated for middle and high school students. An elementary school in Wilmington was upgraded to make room for both districts' students. And a Twin Valley School Board is made up of members from the Wilmington and Whitingham school boards, although the districts have not yet merged.

Taxpayers from both towns are currently paying for building maintenance but Wilmington pays slightly more. The only occupant is the Windham Southwest Supervisory Union, which has its Central Office there.

Voters from the two towns are expected to go to the polls in the fall to decide on whether to bring the two districts together in order to comply with Act 46. The education law requires consolidation of school districts throughout the state.

Superintendent Chris Pratt said he is hoping the vote in Wilmington will be helpful in upcoming talks about the merger.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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