The Huron Valley Schools Board of Education approved bids for the demolition of both Highland Middle School and Baker Elementary Wednesday night, but also made a motion that would allow groups other than just Highland Township and the Village of Milford to make an offer to purchase or use the buildings.
Board president Sean Carlson said that at the end of the day the board needed to protect the district from potentially harmful legislation that would force the district to put the buildings on a state list and give up local control of what happens to the buildings. While the legislation is stalled in committees - there is a real fear that something similar to the Right-to-Work situation could happen and the bills could be passed in a day and go into effect, Carlson said
"As I understand it, as long as we have the contracts for demolition in place, we are protected," Carlson said.
But, that doesn't mean the district isn't open to other options.
School board member Rebecca Walsh said Wednesday night that she would personally make a motion to delay the demolition should the bills die during this legislative term - this would allow the district and the communities more time to look at alternatives for the building.
As it stands now, the communities, and any interested party, have until Jan. 15 to make the district an offer for the buildings. After Jan. 15, the district must approve bids for the asbestos abatement that must take place before the demolition starts in April.
The school board received 17 bids for the demolition of Highland Middle School and Baker Elementary. The school board approved a bid from Adamo Group to demolish Baker Elementary for $95,000, and a bid from ProDemo to raze Highland Middle for $199,000.
The funds to pay for the demolition will come out of the district's building and site sinking fund.
Highland Supervisor Rick Hamill attended the first portion of the meeting before leaving to attend the Highland Township board meeting - but returned later in the night to receive updates on the situation. Hamill said he will get to work talking to the community and trying to find a way to save Highland Middle School in some form.
"I think we can find a way to make this a real positive for Huron Valley Schools, and a positive for Highland," he said.
The school board rejected the township's offer to purchase the building for $1 last week.
At Wednesday's meeting, Donna Welch, assistant superintendent, explained the the district can only sell the building for that amount if it were to be used solely by the township for core township business.
"If we were to sell for $1 so that non-profits or other groups could move into the buildings the district would be responsible for paying more than $1 million in taxes on the bonds that we put into that building," Welch said. "Now if we were to sell the building for fair market value, then we wouldn't have an issue with the bonds."
The district does have a termination for convenience clause in the contracts with the companies for the demolitions. This means the district can break the contract prior to the demolitions without penalty.