Bay School Board Moves Ahead With Two New Schools

It was a do or die day for Bay County School Board members to make a decision on building two new schools.

Developers have donated the land for the new schools, the K-8 Breakfast Point Academy off Back Beach Road and Magnolia Springs Elementary off Highway 231 near Deerpoint Lake.

The school district has already spent $5 million for permits and road construction, but it hasn’t been able to agree on how to pay for the $40 million construction costs of the schools. Some of the board members want to borrow the money. Others say the district shouldn't go deeper into debt.

But delays could mean higher construction costs, and board members run the risk of the developers reclaiming the property.

With all of this on the line Wednesday, members of Bay County Tax Watch appealed to the board to reconsider borrowing the cash.

Mary Sittman, a spokesman for the group, says they feel voters should have a say in the decision.

“We were really concerned the School Board was setting themselves up to have to raise the millage rate again. We fought so hard to get the millage rate reduced so we could have relief for the tax payers of Bay County."

In the end, the board voted 3 to 2 to borrow the money and build the two new schools. The board also heard a presentation from a financial advisor about selling bonds to pay the costs.

The advisor stressed it's better to lock in interest rates now rather than gamble against rates remaining low in the future.

School officials hope to have both schools open by fall 2008.

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