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Deadline is set in purchase of Lowry Middle

The School Board on Wednesday night passed a resolution telling Kevin Gersh to buy the former Lowry Middle School by Jan. 12 or find another place to locate his proposed academy for special-needs students.

"Fish or cut bait. This is it. That's what they're trying to tell him," School Superintendent Vincent J. Vecchiarella said after the board held a 90-minute executive session.

Gersh, 38, an administrator of Montessori schools on Long Island, signed a contract in October 2005 to buy the closed school from the board for $700,000 and made a $70,000 deposit. District residents approved the deal in a referendum Dec. 9, 2005.

Gersh had been expected to close the deal on several occasions over the last few months.

Board President Scott Schultz said the board plans to declare the contract in default if Gersh fails to move forward on the deal by the deadline.

"Time is of the essence, and the time has come now where Mr. Gersh must perform," Vecchiarella said. "No more indulgences should be expected, and no more will be given by this Board of Education."

Vecchiarella, the district's new superintendent, said he understands the board's frustration.

"I started here Sept. 18, and we heard Gersh would have this done in September," the superintendent said. "Then it was Oct. 31. Then by the beginning of November. Then the first of December. And then the board was told not to worry because it would be done in December."

Schultz said, "It's not like we don't want to sell him the building. We just want him to close on it and move forward with his plans. But it seems like it's at a point right now where he's dragging his feet when we just want to move forward.

"It's my understanding that he still has full intentions of moving into Lowry and opening a school."

Despite the delays, Schultz said, "I'm ready to go along if he's ready to go by Jan. 12."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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