SCASD board says ‘bittersweet goodbye’ to former Lemont Elementary School, approves sale

Friday’s special meeting of the State College Area School District board of directors was what President Amber Concepcion called “bittersweet” after voting to move forward with the official sale of Lemont Elementary’s building and grounds.

The buyer, Volos Properties, IV, LLC, plans to utilize Lemont’s facilities as a New Story School.

The board was unanimous in its decision, though board member David Hutchinson was not present.

“It is a little bittersweet to be saying goodbye to that building as far as our school district is concerned,” Concepcion said. “...That building has a lot of history in our community; however, I think it’s really fortunate that we have a buyer who will be able to continue using it as a school.”

The New Story School will not be in the SCASD, but Concepcion said its facilities will be recommended to families who may have children with autism or other emotional or behavioral disorders.

“It will continue to be a school in our community that will serve families in our community still,” she said.

In 1939, Lemont Elementary was a single-story building with eight classrooms and an office area, according to the SCASD website. An addition built five more classrooms, a library and an all-purpose room in 1966. Although the building was renovated in 1966, most of the original structure was left untouched.

At the meeting, Ron and Sue Smith, of Lemont, asked if the building will be registered in the National Register of Historic Places, but the board did not have a definite answer. Before the buyer was named, community members had voiced concern about maintaining the 80-year-old building’s exterior. Keeping those concerns in mind, the district and Volos agreed that the outside facade be maintained.

“We’re happy that the building will remain a school, as many in our community desired,” Finance and Operations Officer Randy Brown said in a press release. “Moreover, this agreement keeps an important part of Lemont’s history in place by preserving the building’s beautiful architecture.”

Before the transfer takes place, SCASD will make sure all fixtures and draperies have been removed from its facilities. The Lemont bell has been removed and is in the process of being refinished. All Lemont playground equipment and furniture will be evaluated by the district. Some items may be installed at Spring Creek Elementary School, where former students of Lemont and Houserville Elementary School will be placed when the new school opens in August.

“All in all, I think it’s exciting to have our K-5 Houserville and Lemont communities come together in a new school,” Concepcion said.

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.