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Albany County approves purchase of Clarksville by Sheriff’s Office

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on October 30, 2018

An agreement for the purchase of Clarksville Elementary School by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office has been approved by the Albany County Legislature. The approved purchase agreement is expected to be reviewed and voted on by the Bethlehem Central Board of Education at its November 7, 2018 meeting as one of the final steps in the cooperative municipal sales agreement between the school district and the Sheriff’s Office.

The sale of the former school to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, a longtime tenant of the property, has been under consideration since 2017. The County Legislature approved the purchase at its meeting on October 9, 2018.

The building served as one of the district’s elementary schools through the 2010-11 school year, when it closed amid declining enrollment. District enrollment has been on the decline for most of the last ten years. After peaking in 2006-07 at 5,182 students, enrollment in 2018-19 has declined 14.2 percent to its lowest level in the last 20 years. Looking ahead, enrollment in 2022-23 is estimated at 4,135 students, a decline of 7.1 percent from the current enrollment of 4,451. The enrollment projections are compiled annually by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.

“We are pleased the county has given the go-ahead for this much anticipated inter-municipal agreement,” said BC’s Chief Business and Financial Officer Judith Kehoe. “With the prospective owner already in place, there will be little disruption to the community, the Sheriff’s Office can proceed with improving its services, and the district will benefit from the sale of a property at its appraised, fair market value.”

The Albany County Sheriff has leased the property from the school district since 2012. 

Kehoe said the County Legislature approved the sale that includes a purchase price for the building and grounds of $325,000. Under the agreement, the school district would receive a lump sum payment of $198,000 at closing and $127,000 of in-kind patrol services by the law enforcement agency over a five-year period. The district routinely pays for additional patrols around its school buildings.

She said in 2017, several public meetings were held to discuss the proposal. Following those meetings, the Board voted to approve a lease-purchase agreement with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office in June 2017 determining that it would best meet the collective needs of the district. In December 2017, the County modified its position, seeking a straight purchase agreement. The Board of Education was briefed on the county’s requested change in the terms of the sale the January 3, 2018 Board meeting. The County Legislature’s vote on October 9 allows the district to take final action to approve the purchase agreement.

“In every public discussion, the prevailing community sentiment was that if the building was no longer needed as a school, the Sheriff’s Office was a good and welcome neighbor in Clarksville,” said Kehoe. “This agreement will ensure that longstanding relationship continues.”

A closing on the property is expected to occur by the end of the calendar year, Kehoe said.

A copy of the purchase agreement for the former Clarksville Elementary School can be found here.