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A Message from the Superintendent -- July 12, 2022

A Message from the Superintendent

Dear BASD Community:

The school building at 225 East North street has been serving the Butler community as an educational facility for over 100 years. Most recently, it has been known as the Butler Area Middle School. Previously it was known as Butler Junior High School and prior to that as Butler High School.

Due to decreasing enrollments and significant cost estimates to renovate the building, the school district has made the decision in alignment with the Community Committee of School Organization to close Butler Area Middle School and cease to use the school building at 225 East North street as a public school.

The same committee as well as numerous community members have asked us to please find a viable use for the building. Our greatest fear would be that the building becomes dilapidated and falls into disrepair like the Pullman building on Hansen Avenue.

Therefore, we have spent considerable time looking into options that are realistic, viable and are not a financial burden to the school district or the community. I am happy to share that, at this time, we have an option that meets those criteria.

We believe that creating a multi-use facility that has dedicated space for workforce training, small business support, manufacturing prototyping and lease space for business and services could be a transformative option for the building and the community.

The school district, in collaboration with Butler County, has developed a relationship with Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation (PGC), a nonprofit organization that specializes in this type of development. PGC, founded in 1998 and dedicated to economic development of our region, is the developer, owner and manager of the former Connelley Trade School, now known as the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) located in Pittsburgh. The Connelley Trade School, a 200,000 square foot complex, was built in 1930 and served Pittsburgh Public Schools for many years before going into disuse with the decline of the steel industry.  Pittsburgh Gateways purchased the building and transformed it into a LEED Platinum center of excellence.  The EIC is often labeled as “Pittsburgh Power House” as a model of both high efficiency operations and the annually recurring production of hundreds of corporate-led, full time sustainable wage careers.  The EIC is an ecosystem of diverse tenants: energy sector corporations; research laboratories; leading academic institutions; and a variety of workforce development organizations in energy, construction trades, healthcare and the arts. PGC also manages other Pittsburgh and regionally-based economic development projects such as the August Wilson House, Clemente Museum and the Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown amongst others.

A project like this, modeled after PGC’s Energy Innovation Center, is only viable by engaging investors and utilizing tax credits that are available from the state and federal government.  That is how upgrades and renovations to the building will be possible without the use of local tax dollars.

The Pennsylvania School Code (laws) permits a school district to transfer the ownership of unneeded school buildings to a not-for-profit organization. The district may reserve the right to reclaim the building should the nonprofit organization wish to sell the building. 

Pittsburgh Gateways has submitted an Expression of Interest and supplemental information. In addition, we have collectively opened negotiations on a Letter of Intent for the school district to transfer ownership of the building to Pittsburgh Gateways for a nominal amount.

Both parties have agreed to a due diligence period of nine (9) months. Then, if PGC’s review during the due diligence period is favorable, the school district’s intent is to transfer the ownership of the school building at 225 East North Street, Butler PA to Pittsburgh Gateways.

If you, a business or an organization, is interested in collaborating with Pittsburgh Gateways, please contact Don Evans at devans@pghgateways.org.

If you have information that you would like the school district to consider during the due diligence period, please email publicfeedback@basdk12.org.

This fall, we will be hosting an open house for community members to tour the building one more time prior to potentially converting its use.  We will post the date of the open house on the school district website. Pittsburgh Gateways will also be present to speak with any community members who are interested in learning more.

We are pleased that the Butler Area Middle School, which served the school district well for many years, will continue to be a resource and asset for the Butler community.

Sincerely, 

Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District





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