School board studying purchase of property

By Harold Gwin

The purchase would be linked to closing the district’s bus garage.

YOUNGSTOWN — The city school board’s business committee has twice tabled a proposed school board resolution to buy property to park school buses adjacent to the district’s warehouse on Teamster Drive.

The item appeared on the school board agenda at both the April 8 and Tuesday meetings, but board member Michael Murphy, chairman of the business committee, asked that it be tabled both times.

The committee is looking at the purchase in the possible closing of the district’s bus garage on Albert Street as a cost-cutting move to help the district deal with its general fund deficit.

That deficit hit $15 million last year and is expected to still be nearly $10.4 million at the end of this fiscal year June 30.

School officials have estimated that closing the bus garage, which is leased from The Cafaro Co., would save about $300,000 a year.

The business committee is concerned with the length of the lease agreement, which is a five-year contract running to July 15, 2010.

Tony DeNiro, assistant superintendent for school business affairs, said there are terms in the lease that give the school district a window to cancel the contract without any penalty.

That window runs from July 15 to Aug. 14 of this year, DeNiro said.

The district would have an expense of about $20,000 to remove fuel tanks at the bus garage, he noted.

Murphy said committee members met with Cafaro representatives to discuss the lease and members are now researching the property the district is proposing to buy to park buses adjacent to the warehouse.

The resolution said the district has reached a $55,000 purchase price for the land owned by MPS Properties of Youngstown.

The purchase would enable the district to move its entire transportation department to the warehouse, school officials have said.

Murphy said there is a small building on the property that the district won’t use and will have to raze, and his committee wants to make sure there’s no asbestos removal or other hidden costs in the plan.

“We just want to have all the figures before we do anything,” he said.

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