Council sets stage to sell old school to new college

(Posted June 13, 2014)

By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer

London City Council is starting the process of selling an old school building to a new college.

The city owns the former London City Schools buildings on Walnut Street. The newly forming Brightway Institute plans to purchase a portion of the campus—the former middle school, the gym and the former art/Academy building—for $1. The institute will lease the gym back to the city for $1 per year, allowing city recreation programs to continue in that location in the evenings and on weekends. The city will retain ownership of the rest of the campus.

Council passed a resolution on June 5 setting the details of the agreement.

“(This) allows us to start the contract process,” said Stephen Hume, London’s safety-service director.

The contract will go into effect once Brightway secures accreditation.

“Right now, they are working to find a partner school in order to gain accreditation,” said David Kell, executive director of Madison County Future Inc., the community improvement corporation affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce. Kell is the liaison between Brightway and the city.

“They could gain accreditation on their own, but the process will be a lot quicker if they partner with a college that is already accredited.”

The institute was in talks with one possible partner school, but those discussions fell through. They are pursuing other universities with which they have built relationships.

“It is important that we get accreditation so our students can be eligible for Pell grants and federal student loans,” said Bill Pizzino, Brightway Institute organizer. “It is crucial that our students be eligible for these because that is how most of them will pay for college.”

Brightway will offer certifications and two-year associate degrees. Among the offerings will be courses pertaining to the construction trade, automotive technology, hospitality, medicine and megatronics.

“This college will be geared towards young people who are just out of high school that for one reason or another were shut out of a traditional college education,” Pizzino said. “It will also be for adults who are looking for some job training to get good paying jobs.”

Pizzino said he chose London for its proximity to Dayton, Springfield and Columbus and because the city is home to no other colleges.

City officials are thrilled with the idea of a college coming to the city and are excited they can help make it a reality.

“Right now, the building they want to move into is just sitting there empty and has been for a few years,” said Patrick Closser, council president. “Instead of letting it sit there and eventually start falling apart, why not let a college turn it into something viable for the community?”

Officials also hope the college will generate revenue for businesses in the community.

“Not only will it educate and train members of our own community, it will also bring people from outside London into our community,” Closser said. “That means they will shop at local stores, get gas at our gas stations and eat at our local restaurants.”

Brightway hopes to start offering some classes this fall, but has to ensure their accreditation and partnership with an area college first.

The institute is hosting a golf outing at noon July 11 at the London Country Club, 1199 Spring Valley Road. Proceeds will go toward the new college.

“We feel this new school will help attract new jobs and industry to the area,” Pizzino said. “Having a trained workforce will also enhance the quality of life around here and give people more opportunities. We are really excited to see all the positive changes this new school will bring to our community.”

For more information on Brightway, go to www.brightwayinstitute.org. To register for the golf outing, email Mike Pulsfort at mpulsfort@brightinstitute.org.

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