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The Exeter Township School Board has given district administrators the go ahead to move forward with proposals to lease space in two district buildings.
The district had intended to sell the building, but a plan to accept sealed bids on the property resulted in no bids.
At their first meeting in the administration’s new location at the former M. L. Lausch Elementary School July 17, the board approved a proposal authorizing solicitor Jon S. Malsnee to negotiate a lease with Providence Community Services to lease the recently vacated building at 3650 Perkiomen Avenue. The company is looking to lease the five classroom space for use as an autistic support school.
“This would be a tremendous opportunity for the district to maintain the property and lease it at the same time. There would potential upgrades to the property as well. It would work well for us in the long-term, especially with trying to sell in this current environment,” said Joseph R. Staub.
Business manager Anne Guydish said the company, which has its headquarters in Arizona, is looking to open more sites in Pennsylvania.
“They are looking in Berks. They think it would be ideal,” she said.
“This is something that should be pursued,” said board president Robert Quinter. “We are competing with one other building in the county. I almost want to say – what do you need from us to get the deal done? That’s how strongly I feel.”
Patricia O’Brien-Pieja and Russell Diesinger voted against the measure; Andrew Yawger and Dr. Kathleen Musevich were absent.
The second proposal allows Malsnee to negotiate a lease agreement for three classrooms at the M.L Lausch building with Manito, Inc. A provider of alternative education services, Manito is looking to lease the space to provide services to about 12 students from Exeter and Antietam, Twin Valley and Daniel Boone school districts.
According to the company’s website, Manito Inc. is a private, non-profit corporation, founded in 1979 as a social service and education organization. The company provides holistic and educational services to adolescents who are experiencing behavior, school, and community challenges.
Superintendent Dr. Beverly Martin said Manito was leasing space from Union Township.
“And with only 12 kids, they were losing money. They were going to get out of Berks altogether because they couldn’t find a suitable place. We talked with them about it; they were interested. They came here and they really liked it.”
She added that Exeter has three slots at Manito for the coming year, two that are definitely filled and one that is being held for future use.
“For the sake of our students we have there, it would be very convenient,” she said.
The $16,800 lease would be a year to year lease for two classrooms for student use and one for office space. There would also be a $150 per student technology fee for using Exeter district computers.
“It would be an opportunity to make use of a portion of this building that is sitting empty,” Martin said.
Both lease agreements will require final approval by the school board.
In other business:
The board voted to contribute $10,000 toward the cost of a study the Antietam School District will conduct on the feasibility of merging Antietam with the Exeter School District.
“It’s really important for us to be part of this. It doesn’t have to be 50-50, but we need to show we’re willing to be part of it,” said Russell Diesinger. Staub said the initial phase of the study could cost as much as $35,000, with additional phases taking the total cost higher, to as much as $66,000.
“It’s an unbelievable amount of data to be provided. I’m in favor of some type of donation. There will be information derived that will benefit all of us,” he said.