The tricky balance of school facility numbers, management

One of the risks of building and sometimes modernizing school buildings is that, if they are later vacated, it’s hard to sell them for future use to get some revenue out of them.

Currently, the Williamsport Area School District permanently closed the doors to two elementary schools last month and has a third school in Woodward Township that has been vacant for several years. The Round Hills Elementary School in Old Lycoming Township and the Sheridan Elementary School in Williamsport were just recently closed.

The district thought it had a sale of the Woodward school for $193,000, but the deal fell through.

The district is accepting proposals from auctioneer companies to help orchestrate the auction sale of the three buildings.

Hopefully, it can take in a sizable chunk of revenue from sale and reuse of all three schools in the near future.

Former schools can often be reused for warehouse, business and office space, especially if they are in good structural condition.

And given the apartment market in the Williamsport area, you would think the buildings, provided they are in decent shape, would lend themselves to that sort of reuse.

In an era of declining school enrollments due to the population trends of the past three decades, how many schools to maintain is one of the toughest questions facing local school boards.

When there are too many schools costing too much money to operate and maintain, school closings with all their emotional trauma become a reluctant solution.

We hope the multiple resale of the schools is successful.

But the situation is instructive for all school boards and administrations in our region.

Be careful with building plans.

Be very careful not to wind up with more facilities than are practical for the maximum education quality of students in any school district.

We’re not saying the Williamsport district hasn’t done that.

We’re just pointing out that the vigilance of education facilities is challenging and never-ending.