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Vacant Gary schools again on sale block

Spaulding Elementary School Wednesday Gary. | Archive~Sun-Times Media

Spaulding Elementary School Wednesday in Gary. | Archive~Sun-Times Media

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Want to buy
a school?

The Gary School Board will open bids at 10 a.m. Nov. 17.

Aetna: 1301 Arizona St.

Kuny: 5050 Vermont St.

Spaulding: 660 Rhode Island St.

Chase: 72 W. 7th Place

Edison: 5400 W. 5th Ave.

For more information, call Tracy A. Coleman, 944-2755

Updated: December 8, 2011 8:02AM



GARY — City neighborhoods are dotted with empty schools. Some, like Spaulding Elementary, have broken windows and unattractive landscapes.

Nonetheless, Gary Community School Corp. officials are hoping to sell the vacant buildings as they wrestle with a $19 million 2012 budget shortfall. Bids will be open on the latest batch of offerings on Nov. 17.

“People have inquired. We’re hoping they follow up and put a bid in,” said attorney Tracy Coleman of Robert L. Lewis & Associates in Gary.

In the past decade, the district has closed about 18 schools as charter schools took away students. Enrollment was 16,000 in 2006 and it’s hovering at about 10,000 students today.

In recent months, the district has sold Banneker Elementary for $50,000 to the National Civil Rights Museum, headed by former mayor Richard G. Hatcher and Beckman Middle School for $100,000 to Lew Management of Gary, which owns Eclipse Charter and Tours.

The school board approved the sale of Tolleston Middle School to the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Indiana, but Coleman said the deal has not been finalized. She also said buyers were lined up for Melton and Carver elementaries, and they hoped to finalize the transactions by the end of the year.

A deal with a charter school interested in Norton Elementary apparently won’t happen.

Coleman and school board member Marion Williams, who chairs the building and grounds committee, say the board tries to make sure the purchasers are legitimate entities.

“When you get into property, there’s a lot of work and financial resources,” said Coleman. “The board wants to make sure whoever buys it is equipped to renovate. The board wants to make the best decision for the community.”

Schools up for sale include Aetna, 1301 Arizona St.; Kuny, 5050 Vermont St.; Spaulding, 660 Rhode Island St.; Chase, 72 W. 7th Place; and Edison, 5400 W. 5th Ave. Coleman said she’ll take interested buyers through the schools.

Williams said the board wants to make sure the buildings don’t just sit idle after they’re purchased. “We’ve been cautious. They have to have the ability to pay and the financing to move ahead.”

Williams said the board has earmarked Ambridge, Riley and Nobel for demolition. “We’re in the process of removing asbestos and taking bids. We hope they will be demolished and the land advertised for sale.”

As the school building inventory shrinks, Williams said the district is putting together a new facilities plan. “We hope to stabilize our population and look for growth within five to 10 years.”

Reach Carole Carlson at 648-3154.



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