Chelsea area could receive new elementary school

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Shelby County Schools may have found a way to fund the construction of a second new elementary school.

Schools Superintendent Evan Major announced at a recent

meeting of the Shelby County Board of Education, &uot;An opportunity has fallen our way.&uot;

Major reported upon the possibility of using $1 million in state funds which could be used for such items as roof repair.

That $1 million would, instead, be used by the state to sell bonds in return for an advance of up to $12 million to the school system. The process is called leveraging.

Major said this possibility did not exist at the time the school system was trying to sell county residents on a property tax increase to fund a five-year capital plan for new school construction and improvements.

Major said a little more than $1 million is coming to the school system from the state because of growth alone.

He said the school system can leverage up to 90 percent of that amount.


think it is an opportunity we must take advantage of,&uot; he said.

Major said the $10-12 million the school system will receive is &uot;clearly enough to do an elementary (new school construction) and perhaps some renovations in another (school).&uot;

However, he noted that the $1 million used for leveraging will have to be set aside for 20 years.

According to Perry Taylor, state school architect, 20 schools systems in the state are pooling their funds and asking the state to sell bonds.

Shelby County Schools is pledging $1 million per year for 20 years to pay the bond debt. So, instead of getting $1 million per year that would not be enough for anything other than school repair, the system will pledge $20 million over a period of 20 years to get an upfront $12 million that could be used to build a school.

Major went on to say that there is a critical situation in Chelsea.

He said Mt. Laurel will open with more than 400 students and he expects Chelsea Elementary to teach a little under 700 students. He said the school has been teaming two teachers to a classroom and has 15 portable classrooms.

While Major said there won’t be teacher-teaming this year, he said the school system should move ahead to secure land for a new school from a developer.

Allen Rice said, he was &uot;all for&uot; any opportunity to secure funds for additional growth.

Steve Martin said the community Major mentioned (Chelsea) has the &uot;biggest trailer park (school portables) in the county.&uot;

&uot;That’s correct,&uot; Major said, &uot;and we’ll need additional trailers.&uot;

Trey Ireland stressed that using the $1 million

to generate $10 to $12 million is not using local funds to borrow money.

But Major advised that money to fix up other schools would have to come from other local sources.

When Ireland asked what affect a future state proration of school funds would do the $10-$12 million to school system hopes to receive, Major responded, &uot;They cannot cut this one because there is an obligation.&uot;

However, he did warn that the school system doesn’t know when the state will actually sell the bonds.

Ireland also agreed

that Chelsea is first priority.

Major said the school system can only leverage money it has available and will not be able to move forward until the money is in hand. But he said the school system needs to move forward to secure school property.

He said in the future the school system will continue to receive funds due to growth above that required to make the bond payments.

&uot;This is one time being a growing system plays to our advantage,&uot; he said.

While he said the system also needs to address middle and high school needs, an elementary school is the most critical.

Major said a letter regarding the possible leverage of funds did not arrive until June 24