An Ohio School District Was Ready to “Sell” Property to a Local Church for $1… Until an Atheist Offered to Buy It November 5, 2014

An Ohio School District Was Ready to “Sell” Property to a Local Church for $1… Until an Atheist Offered to Buy It

Last week, I posted about a high school that’s no longer in use in Monroe, Ohio. The building, which sits on 29 acres of land, is in complete disarray, but treating it for asbestos and demolishing it would require more than $1,000,000 that the Monroe Local School District Board of Education doesn’t want to spend.

The board had the options of selling the building to the city (for much less than it’s worth), demolishing the building, or selling it to the Monroe First Church of God for (literally) a buck.

And they were leaning toward that last option, possibly because board member Tim Carpenter (below) is a member of that church…

The potential church/state violations were evident and the American Humanist Association even wrote a letter to the board requesting more information on their options.

But things got weird on Monday night when the board met to discuss their options.

Not only did the (religious) John W. Robbins Trust offer to buy the land for $1,000/acre, there was another offer made:

The board could also sell the property to a new interested party — Todd Stiefel, of Raleigh, N.C., at a yet to be determined cost for redevelopment for commercial or residential use or possibly donated to the city.

You *know* I had to follow up on this one. Stiefel is the philanthropist who has given away a lot of money to atheist organizations.

While Stiefel’s proposal didn’t officially get sent to the board in time for Monday’s meeting, local councilman Steve Black presented an email to the board — supposedly to audible gasps from the crowd — with the general outline of his plan:

Stiefel offered $10,000 if the board transferred the property to the city. Of that amount, $5,000 would go to the city to refurbish the school fields for public use and the other $5,000 would be donated to the board to purchase science equipment.

Really, with that option, the board would be crazy to give the building up to a local church for a buck. They weren’t pleased with the offer, though, calling it a “bribe”… if you call buying science equipment for students a bribe.

However, Stiefel told me that, after he heard about the John W. Robbins Trust’s offer, he felt his was no longer necessary.

Ultimately, the additional offers stymied the board’s decision-making. They opted to “reject all proposals and reset the process for a future sale.”

That sounds like a victory for now. The board members are fully aware people are paying attention to them — and that’ll make it especially hard for them to give away a ton of property to a church as they intended to do last week.

(Portions of this article were published earlier)

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