New Construction

Seminole County School District Proposes PreK-12 School Facility

Officials in the Seminole County School District, headquartered in Donalsonville, Ga., recently announced a proposal to build a new, all-inclusive, PreK-through-12 school facility. They attribute the need for a new building to the age of current facilities and continuing repairs to buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael, among others. The new school would lie south of the existing middle-high school on Georgia Highway 39 South.

A comprehensive survey of existing Seminole County schools revealed that it would be cheaper to build a new facility than perform the necessary upgrades to Seminole County Elementary School and Seminole County Middle/High School. Building a single, all-in-one facility also allows the school system to receive more funding from the Georgia Department of Education than it would for two distinct schools.

“To maximize our money from the state and to ensure all of our children are in modern, safe, and secure facilities, we are planning for a new PreK-12 facility,” said Superintendent Mark Earnest. “The new facility would allow the school system to start fresh and not have to allocate money each year to the high price of repairs and failures that are occurring in our current buildings. This will allow the chance to lower power bills substantially, as well.”

Funding for the project would come through a Seminole County Education Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST). According to Donalsonville News, an ESPLOST “allows local districts to ask voters for the ability to levy and collect a one percent sales tax to help fund school facility and equipment improvements. It cannot be used to pay operation expenses, such as salaries. ESPLOSTs are enacted by referendum, and Seminole County’s ESPLOST vote will take place in November 2021.”

Seminole County School System is eligible for Low Wealth Project Specific funding, which helps school systems ranking in the bottom quarter of ESPLOST earnings. The district would receive up to $32 million for the project, whose total cost is estimated at $44 million.

In order to build the facility, the school system would have to renew the ESPLOST in November, and the district would have to issue bonds for up to $12 million. “If the ESPLOST does not pass in November, we would not be able to construct a new school,” Earnest said.

The new facility would be energy efficient and designed with student safety as its main priority. The school’s design would also totally separate older and younger students, grouping them in the traditional phases of Grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

Further information is available here.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].

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