(LANGHORNE, Pa.) — For sale: “One Pre-owned, But Extremely Successful, Public High School.”
So begins the tongue-in-cheek, but completely serious, eBay listing for The Learning Center, a Langhorne, Pa., school that has found a unique method to fight debilitating budget cuts — the school has put itself up for auction on eBay.
The Learning Center is an alternative high school program for students who have emotional or learning problems that prevent them from attending a regular high school, according to a statement from the school. Many of the school’s students attend until they are ready to go back into the regular school system.
The starting bid is $599,995, the exact amount needed to keep the school open for the 2012-2013 school year. The Neshaminy School District is facing a $2 million deficit, according to the news release.
The eBay ad describes how the school has been a “saving grace” to students with problems who have suffered a number of problems, including physical or sexual abuse, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
On a lighter note, the ad continues, “Sure, it sounds like a great cause, but what will you, the good Samaritan, get for your investment — besides the feel good vibe of securing the future of so many otherwise lost young souls? Hold on to your bulging wallet, ’cause delivering an education to a group of kids who could really use it is just the beginning.”
The ad lists benefits the buyer would enjoy including the naming rights, delivering the commencement speech on graduation day, a large pizza, a season pass for two to the football games and a personalized Learning Center coffee cup.
The new “owner” (students not included, according to the ad) would also get to choose the school’s mascot, sort of.
“You get to choose a mascot … out of the following three: a beaver, a hedgehog or a groundhog, all wearing an American Indian headdress (If you wish to select another animal you would need to pay an additional $7.65 over your winning bid to cover the additional Photoshop expense),” the ad reads.
The cheeky ad was written by father and son Steve and Casey Young of Langhorne and the original idea to put the school for sale came from 17-year-old Casey Young, who attended the school for about a year before going back to a regular school.
“The Learning Center basically turned him around and he needed it that year. And now, he’s back in the general population doing great,” Casey’s father Steve Young told ABC News. “It could have saved his life.”
Casey was recently doing a foreign exchange program in Brazil when he heard that The Learning Center was in danger of closing.
Ten years ago, the Young family had gained national attention when film and TV writer Steve Young put his family up for sale on eBay for $5 million. There were some bidders, but the ad was taken down by eBay before any deal was sealed.
But Casey thought the same idea could be applied to the school.
“Casey kept saying, ‘What if, like, Bill Gates reacted or some guy shows it to a billionaire who had trouble as a teenager?'” Steve Young said. “It was realistic that if it did get attention, that someone would put up that money. It’s like throwing a Hail Mary pass. It’s a long shot, but sometimes they play out.”
The school’s principal JoAnn Holland and the Neshaminy School District got on board with the plan and the ad went up. Neither Holland nor the superintendent immediately responded to request for comment.
“To keep from being closed by the district, we cut expenses as far as we could,” Holland said in a news release. “We would have to make up an additional $600,000 shortage to keep our school operating as we have in the past.”
“I know it’s crazy,” said Holland. “But with the good The Learning Center does, it’s crazier not to do it.”
“Besides it being very important to us and to my son, there are too many stories from all the other parents and kids who it turned their lives around,” Young said. “We cannot waste the future for these kids.”
The ad already has nine offers and bidding closes Wednesday afternoon.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Matt Egan, CNN
Faith Karimi, CNN
Michael Pearson, CNN
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News