The land in question is privately owned and located west of Alabama 21 near the city’s Public Square. The land owner, Pete Brooks, offered the property for sale at a recent public meeting about where Jacksonville should build its next school.
Mayor Johnny Smith later contacted the owner about his proposal and Monday the mayor presented a map of the property to the school board. Smith said the owner has offered what he thinks is 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 construction of a new elementary or middle school. Before Monday school board members had identified just two pieces of property as potential sites for a new school.
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 a school construction project jointly, 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 in Jacksonville at whichever site members choose, but that 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.
He said it will be better to do two projects well at separate times, than to do both in a hurry.
“I think we need to do that right so it serves this community for the next 50 or so years.”
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.
Usually the school board and city council meet at separate meetings, but members said they wanted to work together to improve the community. It was the second meeting of the day for the Jacksonville Council, which met at 8 a.m. to discuss its own construction project, a complex that will house public safety departments and the city court.
The meeting was called to discuss a school construction project the two entities plan to fund jointly, but members said they hope the meeting is the start of a new norm.
“I hope this is the first of several we’ll have,” said Council President Mark Jones.
“It’s good to have the interaction between the two.”
Staff Writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.