The Florida Legislature will vote Friday on the adoption of the 2015-16 state budget that contains an $8.8 million allocation for the Jackson County School District. Jackson Facilities Director Stuart Wiggins confirmed Wednesday morning that the budget is expected to be adopted at that time since the process is late and the Legislature hasn’t even passed the operating budgets yet. The budget is overdue and, as Superintendent Steve Benton first announced at last Tuesday’s school board meeting, Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) was able to use the extra time to get the $8.8 million for Jackson County.
“It was upon a trip to Golson Elementary School last month to praise Jackson County’s progress with the digital learning device program,” Wiggins said. “He could see that there was a need for a roomier and more modern facility for Jackson County. Mr. Gaetz does deserve the credit for this, as does Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Brad Drake in the House.” If the measure is passed Friday, the budget will go to Gov. Rick Scott who is expected to sign quickly. However, a veto is still possible, Wiggins said.
The K-8 School, to be constructed near Marianna High School at the intersection of Caverns Road and State Road 71 North, will cost approximately $57 million to build, Wiggins said.
The $8.8 million is for 15 percent of the project and will be used to cover planning expenses and other costs. Hopefully, Wiggins said, since new schools currently are funded by the Legislature over a three-year time period, the allocation next year would be $24 million and the final $24 million would come in two years.
If the budget passes Friday and the Jackson County allocation survives a veto--and funding is continued over the next two years, construction could begin in the second year after the second allocation is secured.That would mean construction could begin as early as fall 2016, Wiggins said.
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