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Bradford school district buys historic church

By Crystal Burns

The Bradford Special School District recently finalized the purchase of a historic downtown church providing a silver lining for members of the Bradford United Methodist Church.

Director of Schools Dan Black said he had just received a letter from the city, outlining its intentions to raise the rent of the building currently leased by the school district for its central office from $200 a month to $500 when church members approached him.

“We’ve been discussing leaving this office for nine or 10 years,” Black said. “I always thought we could make this [building] work, that the money [to purchase or rent another building] would be better spent elsewhere.”

The former church, however, includes a fellowship hall, which the district is currently renovating for its central office. School board members voted June 25 to approve new office expenditures of about $50,000 that include moving HVAC and lights, partitioning the fellowship hall for at least one private office, and internet service for the church and the fellowship hall. The money is included in the 2019 Fiscal Year budget.

“It’s going to be nice,” Black told the board. “We’ve talked about this for a long time, and this just kind of fell in our laps.”

The church was built in 1911, and the district is committed to preserving its history.

“We’re really thrilled the school ended up with it,” said Lynda Pratt, a member of the former Bradford United Methodist Church. “It’s really meaningful for all of us. The school is the heart of our town.”

Pratt said closing the church was a difficult process for the members, but having it go to the school district made it easier.

“It seemed like it was meant to be,” she said. “God’s hand was in it.”

Pratt said school leaders had been gracious to church members and agreed that they would only host events in the church that would show reverence to the building’s original purpose.

The district purchased the church and fellowship hall for $25,000, and church members gave the district a $10,000 donation towards the final cost. They recently put a new roof on the church as well.

Black said he believes the district will be moved into the fellowship hall by early September. Rent on the current location increased to $500 per month July 1.

Other school board news

Black complimented the Bradford Junior Beta robotics team for placing third out of 32 teams at the recent national convention. “I was really proud of them for that,” he said.

Other club members also attended the convention.

Black announced the recent resignations of Jo Robbin Buckley, high school math, and Eric Wilson, junior high science. Larry Eddings has been hired to take Buckley’s place, and Matt Bryant will replace Wilson.

“We’re going to miss those that are not coming back, but I think we’ve hired some good people,” Black said.

Board member Dr. Dale Denning noted that four of the six new hires are Bradford alumni.

The board approved changing graduation from May 19, 2019 to May 26, 2019 to better accommodate the annual senior educational trip. Black said the way the trip has fallen the past few years, students and sponsors have been in New York City during Fleet Week. Fleet Week is a celebration honoring the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. Black said being in New York during that time makes sightseeing more difficult as the crowds are usually larger.

Black said moving graduation does not affect the rest of the school calendar. Students, except for seniors, would still be in school that week anyway.


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