During a regularly scheduled meeting the board gave the company, Merchant Capital, approval to begin issuing bonds to procure between $7 million and $7.5 million to apply to a new school, said Jacksonville schools Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell. The school system will add that sum to $4 million the city already borrowed for school construction when it issued bonds to fund the municipal safety complex. The new school is expected to cost between $11 million and $11.5 million, Campbell said.
The board had hoped to build two schools, a middle and an elementary school. But on Monday Campbell said that may not be possible.
“We’re focused on our primary need of building a new elementary school,” Campbell said. “It just doesn’t seem feasible to do both projects.”
The system has just two schools. Students in pre-K through sixth grade attend Kitty Stone Elementary School and students in grades seven through 12 attend Jacksonville High School.
The board has said from the beginning of the process that it would prioritize the construction of an elementary school if it could not do both projects.
Those who would like to build a new middle school have said students in the middle grades would be able to better develop leadership and other skills if they had their own school.
But educators have said the elementary school must be replaced because small pods that house some students are deteriorating, the classrooms are too small and its campus needs to be physically more secure.
The board's Monday decision was the latest in a series of steps it has taken to secure money to build a new school. In October the school system selected McKee and Associates Architecture and Interior Design to do design work for the project, and Campbell said the board will likely decide where to build a new school by January.
The Jacksonville Board of Education will hold its next meeting on Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. at the central office by the elementary school campus.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.