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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2020 3 months ago

Volusia County School Board to revisit decision to build a K-8 on the beachside

In order to cover the cost, the district would have to pursue a $20 million bond.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The Volusia County School Board may not pursue constructing a K-8 school on the beachside after all, as budget projections for the district's five-year-plan report likely declines of revenues due to COVID-19. 

With school sales tax revenues projected to decline by 25% in July-December and 15% from January-June 2021, a forecasted loss of $8.5 million, according to a budget presentation during the June 9 School Board virtual meeting, the board faces a decision if it moves forward with building a K-8 in either the Ortona or Osceola Elementary sites: Do the district opt for a $20 million bond? 

The other option, "pay as you go," won't cover the cost of the school in the year the district planned to begin construction, 2021-2022. The board would have to push construction back a few years.

But with schools like Turie T. Small Elementary in Daytona Beach also in need, some School Board members began to backtrack on their decision to build a K-8 on the beachside. School Board Member Ruben Colon said he had "buyer's remorse" when revisiting the budget. He said he was having a hard time justifying spending $44 million on a K-8 the community may or may not want, when they could build a new elementary school on the beachside and rebuild Turie T. for the same amount of money.

“We have to do what’s right by children," Colon said.

School Board member Carl Persis said there are always more needs to fulfill than revenue available. If the board doesn't go forward with a K-8, the beachside will never a middle school, he said.

“They’ve been wanting one since ‘83," Persis said. "So when we talk about there is a need, there is a need on the beachside. There’s not a middle school from Flagler County all the way to Ponce Inlet.”

The board directed staff to gather more information regarding the bond's interest rate, as well as more data concerning the beachside student population, to make a final decision at the June 23 meeting. The board will discuss the tentative department budgets at its June 16 virtual meeting. 

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