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SALAMANCA – Salamanca City School District is continuing negotiations to sell Seneca Elementary School to the Seneca Nation of Indians, Superintendent Robert Breidenstein said Wednesday.

“Around January or February of this year, officials with the Seneca Nation of Indians came forward and asked if we were interested in selling Seneca,” he said during a meeting of the Salamanca Council “We have been in formal conversation for 13 or 14 weeks now, and the discussion is moving forward.”

School officials determined the school was expendable, that students could be accommodated at other schools in the district and there was ample space to be rented to the Board of Cooperative Occupational Services.

“We still have some space left over,” he said. “The math works out, and we have vacant and empty classrooms.”

Breidenstein said another concern, especially in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, is safety and security. To this end, a smaller district works to that advantage, he added.

“We have five campuses within the district right now,” he said. “We have Seneca, Prospect Elementary, a bus garage, a maintenance shop and the junior/senior high school. We have seen that a small physical footprint, as well as armed resource officers within the school, are the way to go.”

He said that, ideally, the best scenario for the district would be a single campus housing kindergarten through 12th grades.

Another concern is what the Seneca Nation plans to do with the building – whether it plans to open a school that might impact the Salamanca district.

Breidenstein said although a new school would impact the school in the long term, there likely would be enough time to make plans to compensate for lost aid.

What the Seneca Nation would do with the school has yet to be disclosed. It is, however, expected to be discussed at forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday with nation representatives in the Allegany Territory administration building.

Breidenstein also noted the sale of the building would save the district about $140,000 a year.

“We are choosing programs, personnel and pupils over bricks and mortar,” Breidenstein said.

If negotiations culminate in a sale that is OK’d by the board, the issue would be put to a referendum to take place no fewer than 45 days after board approval.