Jacksonville Council, BOE discuss another potential site for new school
by Laura Gaddy
lbgaddy@annistonstar.com
Sep 30, 2013 | 3203 views |  0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE -- Jacksonville school board and council members at a joint work session Monday discussed adding one more property to a list of possible construction sites for a new school.

The land in question is privately owned and located west of Alabama 21, across from the city cemetery, near the city’s Public Square. The land owner offered the property for sale at a recent public meeting organized to get feedback about where the city should build the new school.

After the hearing, Mayor Johnny Smith contacted the owner about the proposal. And during Monday’s joint session, the mayor presented a map of the property to the school board. Smith said the owner has offered a reasonable price, but the mayor declined to list it specifically.

“It’s a really nice piece of property,” Smith said. “It would be a good location.”

Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell and school board President Mike Poe said school officials would consider it as an option for a new elementary or middle school.

Before Monday, school board members had identified just two locations for the project.One is the existing Kitty Stone Elementary School campus, where officials have talked about rebuilding on site. The other is a plot of city-owned property across from Jacksonville High School off of George Douthit Drive.

The city has committed to help the school board fund the project, but the educators are still in the planning phase of the development.

Poe said the system is placing equal emphasis on building elementary and middle schools, but school board members are not going to rush to do both projects at once.

“As much as we would like to do everything now .. if we had to put one above the other, we’ve said the elementary school,” Poe said.

The school board is still trying to select an architect, choose a location to build the school and secure the funding for the project. The city has already committed about $4 million to the project, and the board is in the preliminary stages of acquiring about $7 million from bond debt, said Campbell.

Campbell said the board may choose an architect by the end of this month. After that, Poe said, the board will be ready to select a site for a new school.

School officials also discussed academic performance, technology and school activities but spent the majority of the meeting talking about construction.

“It’s a big weight on our shoulders,” said Poe.

Members of both the board and the council said they hope Monday’s joint meeting will be the first of many.

“It’s good to have the interaction between the two,” said Council President Mark Jones.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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