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BC moving forward on office sale

The Bethlehem Central School District is proceeding cautiously with plans to sell its district offices located on Adams Place in Delmar.

At its May 4 meeting, the Board of Education voted to solicit proposals from realtors, with the intent of selecting one at its June 15 meeting and then putting the building on the market.

There are some issues to clear up before the property can be put up for sale, though, not the least of which is ascertaining the value of the building. It was last valued in 2009 at $670,000, but the housing market has undergone some serious shifts in that time.

I think it's safe to say that's one of the reasons the board is hesitant to commit to a timeline, said Superintendent Michael Tebbano.

A new appraisal will be obtained in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the 5,575-square-foot building inhabits a residential zone, though it's been used as office space for over 30 years and was the town library before that. The district plans to coordinate with the town to either rezone or obtain a variance to continue using the building as office space. That's not a necessity for the sale of the property, but it could increase its marketability.

As for the sale, if and when it occurs it will not be a simple windfall to the district. The operations will have to be moved to the High School, which is not a simple task.

"We're also going to need to move computer lines, technology lines, phone lines, all the things necessary for us to run the school district's financial and business needs," Tebbano said.

The district offices is also home to the superintendent's offices, the registrar and other functions, but when it comes to moving the business and finance operations will require the heaviest lift. The district's recent facility feasibility study suggests the business offices could be moved to a loft space over the High School Library Media Center and other offices could be located in a set of classroom spaces. This wouldn't impact class size or programming, according to the district.

The cost of the move is pegged at $42,800. The district won't embark on that project until more is known about the value of the office building and the sale process.

The idea of selling the district offices was raised by a think tank the district convened to study its long-term fiscal position. That committee also suggested shuttering an elementary school, and the school board voted in late March to close Clarksville. There are no plans to sell that building.""

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