Altoona board to sell Wright school

Members vote unanimously to hire Howard Hanna Johnston Realty to sell the building

The Wright Elementary School building is for sale again.

The Altoona Area School Board voted Monday to hire Howard Hanna Johnston Realty to handle the listing of the building at a commission rate of 5 and a half percent.

The school was closed in the 2013-14 school year and in 2014, the board listed the property and gained two bids of $136,000. One bid was to build a Slinky Action Zone and the other was to build apartments. After receiving the bids, the district decided against selling the school as a new administration considered reopening it as a magnet school for science, engineering, technology and math.

Currently, the district’s elementary schools are experiencing tight classroom capacity as a result of closing Wright and another school years ago. To remedy that problem, the board is considering building a new school in 2018.

Reopening Wright had been considered, but the cost of renovating the old building to meet handicap compliance codes would be more than building a new school, the board’s architect said. In addition, the school’s location on a steep hill has been a problem since it was constructed.

The board voted unanimously Monday to hire Howard Hanna to sell the building, except for Ron Johnston who abstained because his brother is a real estate agent for the firm.

In addition, the board voted Monday to hire a special tax counsel to handle a business privilege tax lawsuit against the district.

The board held an executive session to discuss the lawsuit, then resumed the public meeting to hire Weiss Burkardt Kramer law firm at a rate of $150 per hour.