Geisinger Buys Shuttered Scranton School

SCRANTON — The Audubon School in Scranton’s Hill Section has a new owner. Geisinger Health System was the highest bidder at an auction Thursday morning.

The John J. Audubon School hasn’t been a school for more than two years. The Scranton School District closed the building because of a mold problem.

Now, Geisinger, which has a hospital just across the street, is the new owner. Officials with Geisinger said the old school won’t be standing for much longer.

A public real estate auction ended a lot of speculation for folks in Scranton’s Hill Section. One of its oldest buildings has sat empty for more than two years, and had been up for sale for several months. Now, the John J. Audubon School has a new owner.

It’s next door neighbor, Geisinger Community Medical Center, bought the old elementary school for $750,000. Officials at the hospital said the school won’t be standing for much longer.

“We don’t at this time have any specific long-term plans for the site, but clearly it’s in an opportunistic place and we will make good use of it,” said, Dr. Anthony Aquilina, GCMC’s Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Aquilina said the spot across the street may be an area for the hospital to expand in the future. For now, the school will be demolished and the lot used as a staging area for construction equipment. GCMC has a multi-million dollar expansion planned for next spring.

The Scranton School District took students out of the building in 2010 when mold was found in the ceilings and walls. The district said it would cost about $8 million to renovate it. The school board decided this year to sell the old school.

“I think it’s a pretty good idea, it’s just a waste a space for right now so maybe they can get some use out of it,” said Anthony DonVito, a neighbor.

Nearly everyone Newswatch 16 spoke to in Scranton’s Hill Section was happy to see Geisinger pick up the property, saying that the growing company won’t waste the space.  However, some said knocking the building down is a waste of good architecture.

“I think its wrong, clean it up, get the students back in there,” added Breanna Knight of Clarks Summit.

Scranton School Superintendent Bill King said the district sold the school for a little bit more than expected. The money made is included in the district’s budget for next year.

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