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Carthage Central approves appraisal of former Great Bend school as discussion on its use continues

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CARTHAGE — The Carthage Central School District will have the former Great Bend Elementary School’s value appraised before it continues discussions about whether to sell the building or invest more than $700,000 in the property.

At last week’s Board of Education meeting, the board unanimously approved the appraisal, putting on hold a decision on whether to fix up the building or put it on the market.

Superintendent Peter J. Turner said he expected to learn the community’s opinion from a forum on March 19, but the forum yielded a low turnout.

“The next step, we could continue to ignore the problem, look at what we want to do with that building or look at how much you would like to spend on the building,” Mr. Turner said.

Board President Barbara A. Lofink said the board has tried to reach out to the community, but it now should turn its attention to the district staff and students of the alternative high school to see what they would like to see happen.

“Getting the building appraised will be a good first step to see if it’s worth the investment,” Mrs. Lofink said.

Board member Mary Louise Hunt defended keeping the facility and making the necessary repairs for the value of having a separate location for the alternative education program. Instead of moving programs from the building, she suggested moving more into the former elementary school.

“I don’t feel like Great Bend is being used to its fullest potential,” she said.

She said using the building as a training station or hosting prekindergarten for West Carthage Central School at the facility would cut travel time for residents and staff by providing a place to meet in the middle.

A previous study of the building concluded that more than $700,000 in repairs are needed to keep it sustainable.

Another alternative is for the district not to replace or fix anything except when it becomes absolutely necessary. Mr. Turner said this could mean using emergency funds in the budget.

Board member Joseph A. Colangelo said community members should consider whether the nostalgia of keeping the building is worth the price when the district could be reimbursed for up to 90 percent for new construction. The building is used for district offices and hosts about 20 students in the alternative education program. Because it doesn’t serve primarily as an educational facility, all repairs would have to be paid for by the district.

“With state aid we could build a new $8 million building for the same price as putting $800,000 into this building,” Mr. Colangelo said.

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