Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missing Element: Land School Board Negotiating for Schools Site

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missing Element: Land School Board Negotiating for Schools Site

Article excerpt

The who is the Duval County School Board.

The what is a new school to relieve overcrowding at Mandarin

Middle School.

Two huge questions remain: where and when.

Though some of the details for a new $20.7 million middle

school were worked out at Tuesday's School Board meeting, where

and when the school opens depends on whether the school system

is able to purchase the Baymeadows Road site they have been

eyeing.

On Tuesday, the board adopted a building plan and agreed to

hire an architect and contractor to get the school built. But

until they buy property, they can't build, and because of that,

board members can't say if the new school will open as planned

for the 1997-98 school year.

The answers lie with Russell R. and Bryant Skinner Jr., who own

the 40 acres the board has its heart set on.

The property is at the end of Baymeadows Road, east of the

proposed Florida 9A. The property is part of the 550-acre

Skinner's Wholesale Nursery, according to Jacksonville attorney

Charlie Skinner, a brother of Russell and Bryant Skinner and

their attorney.

Negotiations between the Skinners and the School Board are

moving at a snail's pace.

McGlade Holloway, the school system's assistant superintendent

of facilities services, said the Skinners at one point decided

not to sell, but have since changed their minds.

"It is not definite until a contract is signed," said Holloway.

"It is real iffy."

According to Charles Skinner, his brothers are willing to sell

their land, but a contract is far off. In two meetings between

board officials and Skinner, a price for the land has yet to be

discussed.

"In my opinion, official negotiations have not yet begun,"

Skinner said.

Holloway and School Board Chairwoman Cheryl Donelan said they

fear any publicity on the Skinner property could cause the

landowners to hold out for extra money. …

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