Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School's Price Tag Increases Cost Goes Up by $5 Million

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School's Price Tag Increases Cost Goes Up by $5 Million

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- The high school now being designed for Fleming Island

will cost almost $5 million more than original cost estimates, prompting the Clay County School Board to borrow additional money for the project.

A year ago, district officials first estimated the school would cost about $26 million, based on the state school construction formula they thought appropriate at the time, said Mike Elliott, assistant superintendent for support services.

But that formula did not include the cost of athletic facilities or facilities for special education students, both of which will be required at Fleming Island High, he said. Adding those costs in brought the estimate up to about $31 million, he said.

At a special Tuesday meeting, the board approved a second certificate of participation, a method of long-term financing, for the project. The first so-called COP, which the School Board approved in February 2000, was for $25 million. The certificates, which work like lease purchases or mortgages, are similar to bonds but do not require voter approval.

Board members said they were not happy about having to increase the school district's debt to pay for the high school. But they said they liked their other options -- building the school without athletic facilities, such as a stadium, or reducing the size of the school -- even less.

"As much as I don't want to, I really don't think we have a choice," said board member Carol Studdard.

Had the initial cost estimate been $31 million a year ago, "we would gone with the whole thing at that time," said Chairwoman Carol Vallencourt.

Scheduled to be open in the fall of 2003, the 60-acre campus will include the 51-classroom main building, a soccer field/football stadium, tennis courts and an enrollment of about 1,300 students. On the academic side, plans call for the school to have a business academy, open countywide to high school students interested in pursuing careers in business administration, finance, banking and related clerical fields. …

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