Favorable bond market leads to $1.6M boost for Jacksonville school project
by Laura Gaddy
Feb 04, 2014 | 2935 views |  0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Kitty Stone Elementary teacher leaves the school at the end of the day. The city is looking into building a new school.  (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
A Kitty Stone Elementary teacher leaves the school at the end of the day. The city is looking into building a new school. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Jacksonville school officials will have more money than they expected to build a new elementary school.

Bond attorneys with the Montgomery investment firm Merchant Capital secured $8.6 million for the construction project in a deal that closed Saturday. That gave school officials $1.6 million more for the project than they had expected, said Jacksonville schools Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell.

The money will be added to about $4 million the city borrowed for the project.

Before this week’s deal, officials had counted on having an $11 million budget for the new building, Campbell said.

“We’re very pleased,” Campbell said. “It gives us a little bit of a cushion in case there are any types of surprises, any types of cost overruns.”

Ken Funderburk with Merchant Capital said the school system got more money because it received a better interest rate than school officials expected.

"We were fortunate in that there has been a fairly steady decline in bond rates over the past couple of months," Funderburk said. "We just caught it at the right time."

Kitty Stone Elementary School Principal Christy Hamilton said she learned at a staff meeting last week that Merchant Capital had begun the process to obtain the money, but she didn’t learn how much the district got until Monday. She said she hopes the extra money will benefit her students.

“I’m very excited,” Hamilton said. “The more that we can offer them, the better education they will get.”

Campbell said the money could help the school system purchase better quality materials or add a couple of extra amenities for the students.

Hamilton said officials are still in the early planning stages of the project, and she doesn’t know how the money will be used.

She said she would like to see the students get an outdoor classroom, a math and science lab or more classrooms.

Campbell said school officials may need to use the money for practical matters, but he too hopes there will be enough money to do something extra for the students.

“We’re still so early in the game,” Campbell said. “It just gives you options that you might not have otherwise.”

The school board last month decided to put the new school on a city-owned lot adjacent from Jacksonville High School on George Douthit Drive. Campbell said the board plans to formally request the land later this month, and added that the City Council must vote to transfer ownership of the property to the school district for the school to be built there.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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