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Macon may be out of money for K-4 school

There may not be enough money to build a new K-4 school in Macon County because of the economic downturn, two county commissioners told school board members on Monday (Dec. 15).

Commissioners Ronnie Beale and Jim Davis agreed the new school is needed but said it may not be possible now because of the economy, which has impacted county coffers. Davis said he would favor cutting other county expenses to finance the new school, adding that raising taxes would be the “last resort” to funding the new school.

The school board meeting this week was the first one by a newly elected slate of school board members — four out of the five seats on the board turned over in the November election. As a final action before stepping down last month, however, the former school board approved the architectural plans for the new school.

School Board member Tommy Baldwin, the only remaining member from the old board, said so much money has already been spent on planning the school that it must be built. New school board member Bobby Bishop agreed.

A new K-4 school is needed because there is a lack of space at Cowee and Iotla school, which are using mobile classrooms to house students, according to Superintendent Dan Brigman.

The school is proposed to cost $15.2 million.

A new 5th and 6th grade school that is estimated to cost $14.3 million is under construction now.

Now is a good time to build because material and labor costs are low, said the architect for the project, Mike Watson. Watson said his goal is to receive bids for the K-4 school by April 2.

Beale and Davis also told the school board that if the school is built, the county does not have enough money to extend city water and sewer to the site.

Beale said extending the sewer would cost an estimated $7 million as opposed to an onsite system that would cost about $1.4 million.

School’s fate in limbo

The Macon County commissioners will discuss whether the county can afford the new K-4 school at this time as part of their annual planning retreat to be held Saturday, Jan. 10, at the Southwestern Community College boardroom in Franklin.

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