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Prospect Hill Elementary could be razed

Deterioration, restoration costs prohibitive

Jan. 25, 2010

New Berlin — Prospect Hill Elementary, closed as a school in New Berlin about three years ago, may be razed because of its deteriorated condition.

Leaks in the roof, the need to get asbestos out of the building components and other issues have put rehabilitation in the five to six-figure range, Superintendent Paul Kreutzer said. The New Berlin School Board will now deliberate the school building's future, he said.

But the board, meeting Monday, did direct him to get bids on the cost of razing the more-than-40-year-old building.

The school served children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

"We feel bad," Kreutzer said, "but the building has well served its purpose."

Prospect Hill, 5330 S. Racine Ave., and New Berlin Center Elementary School, 4385 S. Calhoun Road, were closed when Ronald Reagan Elementary School was opened at 4225 S. Calhoun Road. New Berlin Center has already been razed.

Prospect Hill has been rented by the Living Word Apostolic Church. It holds worship services in the school gym and conducts activities there during the week as well. The church has rented space in the building since before it was closed as a school, Kreutzer said.

The School Board on Monday terminated the church's lease as of April 30.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with our renters," Kreutzer said. "They have been excellent renters."

But the condition of the building has made it unfit for occupancy, he said.

The district will offer the church space in its schools, he said. But the church would probably have to be limited to weekends, as opposed to the free access it now has during the week, he said.

School Board President John Kegel said the church does have other alternatives.

Even before the School Board closed the school, the building had maintenance issues, Kreutzer said. But the roof problems are the worst, he said, noting that once water starts getting in, action must be taken.

The district has been trying to sell the school since it closed,. Three offers of better than $1 million came in, but were swept away in the lending crisis, Kreutzer said. The potential buyers could not get loans.

One of the buyers only wanted the former school for the land, Kreutzer said.

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