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Pittsburgh board sells 2 closed schools

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 10:04 p.m.

Two down, 17 to go.

The Pittsburgh school board voted 8-1 on Wednesday, with board member Mark Brentley Sr. dissenting, to sell Madison School in the Hill District to the Schenley Heights Community Development Program for $65,000.

By the same vote, it sold Burgwin School in Hazelwood to the Hazelwood Initiative for $475,000. The building is expected to be used as a Propel charter school.

Board member Regina Holley praised the “wealth of programming” that the Schenley Heights group will bring to Madison. But she and board member Terry Kennedy said they felt forced into supporting the sale of Burgwin rather than leave it vacant.

“I would love to reopen it as a Pittsburgh Public School,” Kennedy said, “but we're up against the wall. It can't happen any time soon.”

“I'm not happy that those children are going somewhere else,” Holley added. “They should be going with us.”

In 2012, the school district authorized Fourth River Development, a real estate company, to evaluate vacant school buildings and recommend ways to increase their value.

Last year, the district sold the former Schenley High School in Oakland to PMC Property Group Inc. for $5.2 million and McCleary School in Lawrenceville to E Properties & Development for $410,000. Both are being converted for residential use. The school board last year approved the sale of Morningside School for $275,000 to the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority.

This month, Pittsburgh Public Schools set the sale prices of six closed schools in a bid to raise money for the cash-starved district.

It is asking $325,000 for the former Horace Mann School in Marshall-Shadeland, $275,000 for Rogers School in Garfield and $250,000 each for Gladstone School in Hazelwood, Schaeffer School in Crafton Heights, the former Homewood Montessori and Sheraden schools.

Those buildings join Columbus School in the North Side, which is on the market for $930,000,

District officials had said its 19 closed schools cost more than $600,000 a year for utilities and custodial work. The debt owed on the buildings totaled more than $9.3 million.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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