AASD sells Wright building

Nehemiah Project purchases former elementary school

The Altoona Area School Board voted unanimously Monday to sell the former Wright Elementary School to the Nehemiah Project for $140,000.

Dave Miller of the Nehemiah Project said the new use of the building is uncertain but said the faith-based organization’s general purpose is to revitalize neighborhoods.

The Nehemiah Project’s history in the school district includes operating the school district’s Mountain Lion BackPack Program that feeds children on weekends.

The board previously considering reopening Wright Elementary on 11th Street. The board had closed Wright and Washington-Jefferson elementaries at the end of the 2012-13 school year. The Washington-Jefferson building was repurposed for the district’s preschool program.

The board considered selling Wright in the 2013-14 school year, but it took the building off the market. Then-Superintendent Tom Otto examined reopening it as a magnet school as the board grappled with possible ways to increase classroom space for elementary students.

Reopening, however, was not a viable option. The board is pursuing other construction projects recommended by KCBA Architects.

The school board placed the building on sale again in January.

“I was a strong advocate of seeing it opened up,” Ron Johnston said. “But I understand that can’t happen with the need to update it to codes, so I’m a yes to sell it.”

The agreement approved by the board on Monday is pending review by the school district’s solicitor.

As former city mayor, board member Wayne Hippo said he has seen other projects of the Nehemiah Project take root and be successful in Altoona.

“I think the school district has a responsibility to do the best we can for the community,” he said. “The Nehemiah Project is doing wonderful things here.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.