In an effort to solve its budget problems and at the same time bring wider attention to school, one Pennsylvania high school is trying a rather novel approach: listing itself for sale on eBay. The Learning Center of Langhorne, PA, which mainly caters to kids dealing with emotional or learning difficulties, put together an ad that ABC News called "tongue-in-cheek, but completely serious." with a starting bid set at $599,995. This amount is the minimum the school needs to keep its doors open for the 2012-13 school year.
The buyer will obviously not own the school outright, but will, in addition to good feeling that comes from helping a school that has been a boon to kids that have suffered problems in other academic institutions, enjoy naming rights, a season pass to the school's football games and a large pizza, among other perks.
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 mascotâ¦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 eBay sale was the idea of a 17-year-old former student Casey Young who came up with the text together with his father Steve. Casey attended the school for a year before re-enrolling in a regular school, and, in light of the benefit he derived, wanted to help his former home in staying open and continuing to help kids just like him.
"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 ABCNews.com. "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.
The Young family has some experience with stunt eBay auctions. Steve first gained nationwide attention over ten years ago when he listed his entire family on the auction giant for $5 million, even attracting several bids before the listing was yanked. That attempt to raise money went nowhere, but Casey thought it was an excellent approach for The Learning Center to utilize. Even if it attracted no bids, the attention from the ad would at least bring recognition for the good work the school has been doing for years.
School principal JoAnn Holland embraced the unconventional approach. Facing a $600,000 shortage after the state cut the subsidy to the school in the latest round of budget cuts — and a threat of closure — she was willing to try anything to keep going. The ad has attracted nine bidders already.
"I know it's crazy," said Holland. "But with the good The Learning Center does, it's crazier not to do it."