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District may wait to build sixth elementary school
Ownership, funding problems could stall plans for Mundy Mill Academy
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GAINESVILLE — A "shaky economy" and ownership issues has Gainesville city schools looking at putting off construction of its sixth elementary school, Mundy Mill Academy.

The district had considered opening the school in the fall of 2009, with construction to start this year.

However, the system still is working to acquire the deed to the 17-acre property from Decatur-based REL Properties, which is developing the 604-acre Mundy Mill community north of Mundy Mill Road near Oakwood.

"Those issues have not been resolved as we approach the deadline to break ground and open the new academies in August 2009," said Superintendent Steven Ballowe in a Jan. 28 memo to City Board of Education members.

Also, Ballowe said, "the shaky economy is affecting the Mundy Mill project and may affect the Gainesville city schools having funds to complete the project."

School officials had discussed putting off $2.5 million in projects this year so it could save up money for the new school, which also would be funded by state money and the district’s 1-cent sales-tax program.

"The additional time will allow our schools to get the required construction and ownership documents, as well as address local funding needed to complete the project," Ballowe said.

In the meantime, he recommended that the system lease a portable building containing 10 or 12 classrooms and place it on the New Holland Core Knowledge Academy campus for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years.

The issue came up Monday night at the school board’s monthly work session.

Members agreed with a request by David Shumake, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, to begin researching costs for the portable buildings, which are now featured at several of the district’s schools.

Shumake said that in September, the cost for an eight-classroom building was between $480,000 and $490,000.

Funding for the units hasn’t been determined.

"I need to get some financial information from (finance director) Janet Allison before I jump out on this limb," said board member David Syfan.

In other business, the board:

Discussed possibly setting Oct. 13 as a holiday for teachers and students.

Currently, Oct. 13-14 has been scheduled for teacher work days. To make up the day, however, teachers would have to work on May 28. The year now ends May 27 for teachers.

The board decided to consider the matter for a vote in its business meeting later this month.

Approved allowing St. Michael Catholic Church in Gainesville to use Gainesville High School’s old gym on June 1 for a "reception party" for a newly ordained priest.

Gave its OK for a grounds improvement and "water collection" project at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

Mark Fockele and his wife, Mildred, presented the plans, which combine beautification of an area outside the school with an educational mission.

The area will feature a water tower, ornamental garden and a demonstration garden "that will show ... nine groups of plants on planet Earth," Fockele said.