Thomas Jefferson High School auctioning off furniture, mementos
If you ever dreamed of owning your old high school locker or the desk from your ninth-grade English class at Thomas Jefferson High School, now you can.
The West Jefferson Hills School District, through J. Dunmire Auction Services, will host a series of auctions later this year to sell what’s left at the old Thomas Jefferson High School, ranging from kitchen equipment to classroom furniture.
“We still have a lot of stuff in there,” said Ryan Snodgrass, director of facilities. “Why would we pay to dispose of stuff? Even myself as a taxpayer, let’s try to squeeze some dollars out of this stuff — and there is a lot of stuff to sell.”
School board members on June 25 authorized the auctions to proceed. The auctioneer, which will handle everything including set-up, will get 25 percent of the proceeds and the rest will go into the district’s general fund.
The auctions will be advertised in the paper and on the school website.
Since late June, the district has been in the process of moving from the old Thomas Jefferson High School at 310 Old Clairton Road to the new $95 million TJ just up the street at 830 Old Clairton Road, that’s officially set for a grand opening next month.
While classroom materials and administrative furniture made the trip, classroom furniture did not.
The new school features all-new flexible and adaptive seating for students, so classrooms can be reconfigured daily based on the lesson, and allows for collaboration, Snodgrass said.
Those 40-pound desks with the attached arm aren’t useful with the way learning is done today, he said. So, they’ll be sold.
West Jefferson Hills leaders in the past have had success with auctions, so that made this an easy route to choose, Snodgrass said.
Roughly four years ago, the district hosted a “basement cleanout” style auction, selling old items from the metal shop and textbooks. It netted almost $37,000 from that sale.
This time around, with so much to sell, the auctions will be divided into categories. Equipment and cafeteria furniture from Gill Hall Elementary, which is undergoing a renovation, also will be included in the auction.
The first will be held in September or October and focus on commercial equipment. That includes items from the school kitchen, cleaning and shop equipment.
Some of the shop equipment that will be sold is 50-60 years old.
“We haven’t used it in 25 years,” Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass envisions specialty repair shops and restaurants will be interested in this equipment.
The next auction likely will occur in October or November and include moveable items, including desks, shelving and filing cabinets.
“Just think about it, how many of us wish we had a filing cabinet in our house to put in the garage or basement? Well, you might get one for $20,” Snodgrass said.
This is where the sentimental purchases will come in where you can bid on your old locker or get a piece from your old high school life.
There’s so much in the school, that this auction could be divided.
District leaders said there have been requests for mementos like classroom numbers.
Superintendent Michael Ghilani said there’s even been talks of holding special auctions for the alumni and teachers.
Other schools, including parochial schools, already have expressed an interest in some of the furniture, Snodgrass said. Typically with an auction like this, schools will travel across the country for good buys.
While the fate of the old TJ still has yet to be determined, the final auction planned would be a salvage auction, where people or companies can bid on the rights to remove things like copper or the bricks from the building. There, companies can bid to take all the doors out of the school, or all of the lightbulbs. This likely would take place in the spring of 2020.
With an old building, the district has had to purchase items that are hard to come by for the school, so other schools that use this old equipment might be interested, Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass said there is $2 million that was set aside in the budget for the old building’s demolition.
“After talking to this auction company, there’s the potential that we could even break even or we could even make a little bit of money,” Ghilani said. “For a taxpayer, that’s good news and hopefully someone can use the materials in that building to benefit kids in another district or somewhere else.”