By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
---- — PENDLETON — South Madison Community Schools officials expect the board of trustees to approve hiring an Indianapolis contractor to demolish the old high school building tonight.
Business Manager Ken McCarty said 10 contractors submitted plans to tear the old school down. The bids were opened on Tuesday. Cost estimates for the work ranged from $125,000 to $175,000. The recommended contractor's bid was less than that.
How to deal with the old school has been the subject of fierce community debate the past several years.
School officials said the building is a health hazard, expensive to maintain and would be costly to renovate.
Opponents said the building is structurally sound, historically important and worth preserving.
McCarty, who declined to name the recommended contractor until tonight's board meeting, said the bids were competitive.
"I think the board will be pleased with the recommendation that we're going to make," McCarty said.
If approved, interior demolition work on the building could begin immediately. Razing the exterior of the building could begin after the school year ends June 2, McCarty said.
"We do not want to disrupt students in intermediate elementary or the primary building while school is in session," he added.
The old school sits empty in the middle of Pendleton Elementary School’s campus — composed of the intermediate elementary, 301 S. East St., and the primary elementary, 327 S. East St.
In March 2012, the school board unanimously voted to demolish the three-story building that was originally built as Pendleton High School in 1936, transformed into a middle school in 1969 and closed after the new middle school opened in 2009.
The Pendleton Historical Preservation Commission issued the school corporation a certificate of appropriateness, which essentially allows the school corporation to tear down the historic building. After a court battle with the town of Pendleton about the certificate, a judge cleared the way for demolition.
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School board meeting What: Regular meeting of South Madison Community Schools Board of Trustees Where: Administrative Services Center, 203 S. Heritage Way, Pendleton When: 7 p.m. today