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Brighton Superintendent: Sale of Elementary School Would Balance District Budget

Brighton Area Schools could have a balanced budget even without the sale of the school, but it would be really tight, according to administrators.

Whether or not Brighton Area Schools will have a balanced budget at the end of the fiscal year could depend on the sale of Lindbom Elementary, which has been on the market for about a month at the price of $2.2 million.

"If we sell Lindbom, we'll have better than a balanced budget, but if we don't sell Lindbom, it will be really close," said Brighton Superintendent Greg Gray.

Board members discussed the school sale along with the proposed budget amendment during its Monday night meeting. The amendment will be on the agenda for action at the Jan. 25 meeting.

Gray said the biggest factors contributing to the budget changes are declinging enrollment and declining funding from the state.

Board Secretary Nick Fiani said the amendment definitely didn't look like a balanced budget and the anticipation and optimism of it had him concerned.

"We can't control the number of kids that come in, which is our only revenue, and that's the challenge," Gray said. "And our budget is due prior to July 1. If you're ever looking for an exact, specific budget in a school system, you'll never find it - ever. But we come as close as we can. Boilers break down, things happen, operations go up and down and that robs Peter from Paul."

Board Vice President Bill Anderson said that even if the school sells, it is just masking that fact that the district is spending more than it is taking in this year.

In addition, the district still owes about $400,000 on Lindbom, according to Assistant Superintendent of Finance Maria Gistinger. So even if the building sells at its asking price of $2.2 million, the district will not see the full amount.

The building, which was closed in 2010, is about 50,000 square feet and sits on about 10 acres. Gray said the majority of people are more interested in the property rather than refurbishing the building.

School Board President Miles Vieau said he'd rather lease the building and keep the asset, but Gray said he guarantees the district will never fill the school again.

"We're graduating about 550 kids and bringing in less than 400 kids each year," he said. "And that doesn't count kids moving out of the district. People aren't having as many kids anymore."

Four people have been through the school, with another viewing scheduled for Tuesday. Gray said that if any offer is made, it will be brought back to the board members for a decision.

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