Centennial Finds Buyer for Closing Elementary Schools

If the agreement is finalized, County Builders will purchase the Leary, Longstreth and Stackpole properties for approximately $1.2 million.

As the students, teachers and parents prepare for the final stages of Centennial School District's consolidation process, the answer to the question of what will happen to the vacant , and buildings became a little clearer during Tuesday night's school board meeting.

With a unanimous vote, the board directed the Real Estate Counsel to prepare an agreement of sale for the properties to County Builders for a grand total of $1,275,000 ($425,000 per site). The agreements will include a 60-day period for both parties to perform due diligence, plus an additional 30 days until the closing date.

County Builders has not made public its intention for the sites, but since they are all zoned as R2, it's a safe bet that they will be turned into residential units and incorporated into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Centennial Business Adminstrator Chris Berdnik said that the revenue generated from the sales would be reflected in new budget projections for Monday's Finance Committee meeting. The most recent adjustment showed an assumed revenue of $850,000 from the sales of the Dot Henry Satellite School to Ivyland Borough, Leary and Stackpole.

According to the consolidation schedule, at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year Stackpole students will join the former Davis Elementary students at the new Region 1 school, and Longstreth students will move to McDonald Elementary, then the entire school will transfer to the new Region 2 building in March 2013.

Leary students have already transferred to the renovated and expanded . Centennial leased classroom space at Leary Elementary to organizations such as the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, BARC and Head Start, convincing them to move out of Warminster's WREC Center.

The hole in the township's parks and recreation department's budget, forcing Warminster administrators to explore options to either sell the property or make capital improvements to dramatically improve the building's condition. Either choice will require the township to purchase the reversionary interest clause that Centennial has maintained since signing over the lease for the former Hart Elementary in 1988.

The school board also approved a $92,870 agreement with Reynolds Consulting Engineers to commission William Tennent, Willow Dale, McDonald and Davis after the construction projects are completed. The group will test and review all of the buildings' systems and utilities and ensure they meet the estimated performace specifications.

The lone dissent in the 8-1 vote came from school director Jane Schrader-Lynch, who found it "interesting" that Reynolds Consulting Engineers is a sister company of Reynolds Construction Management, which has overseen the district-wide project since 2008.

Generally speaking, many engineering experts recommend that third party firms conduct commissioning services to ensure an unbiased report free from any conflicts of interest. If a particular item does not meet the agreed expectations, it would be on the builder's shoulders to pay for any repairs and adjustments. The potential added cost could tempt a subsidiary to overlook any discrepancies.

Centennial Superintendant Dr. Jennifer Cressman and Operations Committee chairwoman Kati Driban said such a scenario would be highly unlikely because Reynolds Construction Management directed the progress of the school construction, but other contractors and sub-contractors performed the actual work. 

"If something needs to be addressed," said Driban, "Reynolds engineers will put together an action plan, and it will be up to the contractors to pay for its execution."

Fox Mulder April 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I'd much rather spend my hard earned tax dollars watching the building sit there vacant, requiring the district to cut the grass and plow the snow. Who wants to see these properties return to the tax rolls? Not me, let's take the cost of holding onto the buildings right from the classroom. I mean really, why should they sell?
HONEST MOM April 22, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Did anyone ever think to poll the neighbors that back up to the properties if they would be interested in increasing the sizes of their back yards a little? I'm willing to bet most of them would much rather split the cost of each property rather than see all those new homes out their back windows and all that construction mess! At a cost of just over $400,000 for each school that would have only been about $10,000 each give or take a few thousand. Just a thought!
Joe Meditz April 22, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Joe Meditz In reference to Sarah Ronzelli's comment about no one attending the meetings. We moved here in 1970, across the street from Longstreth School, after being here a few years I started to attend meetings at the Township and School levels. We would make suggestions to the board or to the Township supervisors about different items and we basically got blown off we actually had a Township supervisor tell us that we didn't know what we wanted and they knew what was best for us. After a few years of this we gave up. My concern with new homes being built in place of Longstreh School is the water run off from the new development. Everytime we have a heavy rain storm the intersection of Marian Road and Roberts Road gets flooded with 3 feet of water. Why can't someone step up and make this an open space area. We are getting so boxed in in this township.
Ruth June 07, 2012 at 01:35 PM
The most recent adjustment showed an assumed revenue of $850,000 from the sales of the Dot Henry Satellite School to Ivyland Borough, Leary and Stackpole. If you break it down that is about 283,333 per school. In Ivyland Borough I have not seen a house go for that price, and if they tear it down it is in the historial part of town, you can not even cut a tree down without permission. And then it must be replaced with a new tree and they tell you the size that you must put there. Why buy there you can not build a new home there? Or did the borough change that for the sale as well....
longstreth neighbor June 11, 2012 at 03:02 AM
As a resident that backs up to longstreth school concern. As an older building being torn down is there any asbestos in the building that will filter into the air and coat your property hopefully the builder will take responsibility for that or the dust and dirt flying into the air will they take care of that also. what kind of homes are they building townhouses or match the rest of the community single family homes. Just what the community needs more homes in a saturated market. why not a community park for the kids that live in the area. Why not make this a more enjoyable community instead of more homes make it open space. but then again no resident's were ask. And i believe longstreth is on 17 acres and it was only sold for $400,000 why so low?.


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