West York Area School District approves admin office move

West York Area High School in West Manchester Township, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert

The West York Area school board on Tuesday approved a district decision to move its administration offices to a recently renovated complex in West Manchester Township that also houses The York Dispatch and York Daily Record.

This comes after 54 years in the Smyser Schoolhouse Building on West Market Street, in West Manchester Township, according to a news release.

The board presented the lease agreement, between the district and Principio Health Center, on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at its work session before voting unanimously to approve it Oct. 15.

"It gave the district an opportunity to do a lot of things that really needed to be upgraded mechanically without taking out new money," said Superintendent Todd Davies, on the reasoning behind the lease.

Board President Todd Gettys said the district was able to use $4.1 million in bond money it set aside for the offices to instead invest in several buildings, fields, roofs and security systems.

Moving will also allow more than 25 staff members from four different district locations to be housed in one central office.

The district's agreement will lease about 17,000 square feet of office space at 1891 Loucks Road and include a one-time cost for furnishings, security and technology for about $461,000, according to district documents.

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West York Area School District Superintendent Todd Davies stands with members of the West Manchester township and police department after presenting a gift of a bulldog statue to honor the new school resource officers at the school board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 21.

When prepaid, the lease also offers a 2.5% discount on annual rent — which is $161,500 under the agreement, according to the release.

Principio Health Center, a unit of Stewart Properties, the real estate development and investment arm of the Stewart Companies group, owns the building — which also houses offices for The York Dispatch and York Daily Record.

The district had been looking for a new space since 2013, officials said, while also considering building a new structure or renovating the existing building.

"Those options, just financially, were not the right options for us," said district Business Manager Sheri Schlemer, who said a number of school infrastructure fixes this summer became more of a priority.

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Board members Suzanne Smith and George Margetas agreed. It also would have been too expensive to add to the renovate the Smyser building it to be in compliance with federal Americans with Disabilities Act laws, the release states.

"I think we did the responsible thing," Gettys said, in putting the money toward students first and foremost.

West York's lease is for 10 years initially, with options for two additional five-year terms, according to district documents.

The lease is effective Dec. 1, Schlemer said, and Davies is projecting a move-in date of Nov. 26. Board meetings in the new space beginning in January.

Officials expect a decision to be made this winter about what the district will do with its existing administrative space.