VALLEY SPRINGS — Nabholz Construction began demolition of Albright Hall on the Valley Springs School campus Wednesday, one of the hindrances that saw a first millage increase fail about three years ago.
State education officials notified the district that Albright Hall, which was built in 1927, was found to no longer meet state codes for classroom size and was targeted to be torn down to make room for a parking lot for the gymnasium.
The district asked voters to approve a 7.1 mill property tax increase during the regular school election in September 2017. Voter turnout was low with 223 ballots in favor of the increase and 237 against.
District officials then regrouped and called for a special election February 2018 and began educating the public on the need for new facilities. They also pared back some projects and reduced the requested increase from 7.1 to 6.9 mills.
Voters turned out more for the special election, which saw 457 people vote for the increase and 348 against it.
In December 2019, Nabholz Construction representatives let the school board know that costs of replacing the greenhouse came in higher than expected. The board approved some cuts to plans. The school had to pay the entire cost because it had not been included in the proposal put before voters.
However, an individual years ago had donated $500,000 in a deed of trust to be used strictly for Albright Hall upkeep. When the state Department of Education declared Albright Hall no longer usable for students, the money was converted to the building fund, where it was segregated from other funds.
Then-Superintendent Judy Green said some of that money could be used to cover the higher cost of the greenhouse project, although some should be saved to cover the cost of demolishing Albright Hall and abating asbestos.
In April, the board approved the asbestos abatement plan for Albright Hall with Nabholz Environmental Services handling the job. Abatement was to be paid for through the partnership agreement between the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Division of Facilities and the school.