School board turns down Gettys offer

By Ben Robinson, Courier Staff

EASLEY — The School District of Pickens County’s board of trustees voted 4-2 against an offer to sell the old Gettys Middle School property at a called meeting Dec. 17.

Board member Judy Edwards recommended the board wait for more information before selling the property.

“I think we need to postpone this,” Edwards said. “I think we need more discussion. We have not given our public an opportunity to have public input to say what they think needs to be done, (so) I think this needs to be postponed until a time when we can have further discussion and make decisions about the old Gettys Middle School.”

Board member Alex Saitta urged the board to move forward with the sale.

“There was a bid submitted about two months ago,” Saitta said. “And I feel we should get back to them in a timely manner.

“There’s a lot of arguments that we should wait for appraisal,” Saitta said. “I can tell you the building is going to appraise for a million dollars. The rest of these buildings did — Dacusville Elementary, Pickens Middle School, and Liberty Middle School — and what happened was none of them sold close to that.”

Saitta said Liberty Middle School was being looked at by a private buyer, and was appraised at $1.2 million. In initial talks about the property, the offer was lowered to $750,000. After the proposed buyer looked at the property, the offer was dropped to $400,000. After a great deal of asbestos was found in the building, the offer was dropped to $160,000.

Saitta said he had been told it cost $146,000 just to keep electricity on in the building. And the district would not worry about repairs, such as a leaking roof.

In November, a Saitta motion to sell the Gettys Middle property for $250,000 was tabled by a majority of the board, and his motion at the latest meeting involved giving the proposed buyer a counter-offer of $300,000.

Saitta said that Legacy Charter School, the proposed buyer for the Gettys property, will come to Easley regardless of the board’s selling the property.

“I don’t see a long-term need for the building,” Saitta said.

Saitta estimated it would cost between $400,000 and $500,000 to tear down the old building

“I just can’t see putting more money into that when you have Forest Acres Elementary which needs a new roof,” Saitta said. “We need to pay for our immediate needs.”

Edwards said that more and better offers may be available once the public realizes it is available.

“I think thst selling it without finding if there are others who would be interested is not fair to the School District of Pickens County.

Edward also objected to selling to a charter school.

“I don’t think we should sell it to a charter school,” Edwards said. “If the charter school comes here anyway, that’s their right, but I don’t think we should sell it to a charter school that is going to take students and money from our public schools. I don’t think we should just give it away to them.”

Board member Jimmie Gillespie said he felt the district should accept the selling of Gettys.

“Before I got on the board, my understanding was that we used to give the schools away,” Gillespie said. “I can kind of understand why.

“There’s break-ins. There’s all kind of problems. I don’t know how many times a week you have to go there now, but in the beginning it was a good bit.”

Gillespie said the district needed to accept the offer.

“We’re not going to get what the building appraises for,” Gillespie said. “We need many, many other things. It’s not going to go a long way towards any of those needs, because of the expenses we have incurred. I can’t see hoping we might be able to get more money.”

When the motion to sell finally went to a vote at the end of the meeting, it failed 4-2, with Saitta and Gillespie voting for the sale, and Edwards, Ben Trotter, Jim Shelton and Dr. Herb Cooper voting against the action.