A decision by the Highland Township Board of Trustees to pass on the purchase of a shuttered middle school owned by the Huron Valley School District leaves the fate of the building unknown.
The Huron Valley Board of Education in late May approved the sale or demolition and sale of Highland Middle School and Baker Elementary School. The district closed the schools earlier this year, agreeing to give local municipalities the first chance to purchase the properties.
Highland Township Supervisor Triscia Pilchowski said the township Board of Trustees unanimously declined the offer to purchase the property, stating the cost for maintaining it in the future would be prohibitive.
Six of the seven board members voted to reject the offer, with Trustee Russ Tierney absent from the meeting.
The school district reports that school building sites in southeast Michigan have sold from $20 to $60 per square foot, and that the sales price for Highland Middle School will reflect the size of the building, future renovations, fire suppression, public water service, and its proximity to M-59.
“Multiple sale configurations have been suggested and will be the subject of further discussion,” Huron Valley Schools Interim Superintendent Jim Baker informed the township Board of Trustees in an e-mail.
Based on the Jim Baker’s figures and the square footage of the complex — 92,180 square feet — the entire Highland Middle School complex, located on John Street in Highland just south of M-59, could cost between $1.8 million and $5.5 million to purchase.
Baker said the cost to demolish the building would be about $559,720, which includes about $183,000 for asbestos removal.
If purchased, the building could be subject to restrictions, including provisions prohibiting the use of the building as a pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education facility.
In addition to the building, surrounding land owned by the school district could be available for purchase. However, the district has stated 12.16 acres of land where the school’s ball fields are located wouldn’t be available for purchase.
The school board voted in March last year to close Highland Middle School under a plan to maximize resources and reduce expenses due to the economic shift and declining enrollment in the district.