Update on Marianna K-8 school and Graceville K-5

    Mark Skinner | TIMES - Marianna K-8 School

    The return of students to school for the final semester of this school year has prompted concern, questions, and speculation about the status of the Marianna K-8 school as well as the new Graceville K-5 school. In an effort to alleviate concerns by parents, faculty and staff, the TIMES went to the source for the latest update on the progress of the two projects.
    Stuart Wiggins, Director of Facilities for the Jackson County School Board met Tuesday for an update, “The dates may vary 1-2 days but right now we are set to be property ready in the school on June 20, 2020. Now, it could be as early as June 18 or late as June 22 but right in that time frame is when we are expecting to make our move with property.” Wiggins said the K-5 addition in Graceville is moving along right on schedule, “The K-5 in Graceville is moving along nicely. They didn’t have the damage and aftermath of Michael in that area that the Marianna area, primarily the K-8 had.” Wiggins said much of the funding for the Graceville project is from the half-cent sales tax that is earmarked for capital improvements, “This was passed 20 years ago. Billie Dickson had it passed to do capital improvements, technology and put in network to all the schools. Now that all the schools have network, up to 20% goes to computers or technology and then the other goes to capital projects. We are going to spend about $8.2 up there to build that pre-K-5 wing.”
    Wiggins said ultimately the biggest impact these two schools will have is the money saved by combining in Marianna basically three schools and moving the elementary school to the high school property in Graceville. Wiggins said, “The Graceville School moving to the high school will save between $350,000 and $500,000 a year and so over the course of a fifteen years we will get our money back. You can run one school cheaper than two. The Marianna K-8 school is going to save close to a million, like $850,000 just combining those three schools.”
    Wiggins said in recent past, churches had been very generous in helping with labor in one or two schools that had to be evacuated for repairs and he was hopeful to utilize that avenue again. He praised the work done in the past saying they had packed up individual classrooms, moved boxes and the furniture to the new area with no reports of anything being lost or misplaced. As the school year ends, small groups could take individual rooms starting with Marianna Middle as the middle school portion of Marianna K-8 will be the first buildings ready for property.
    Wiggins stated the original price on the K-8 school was $72 million and we have funded it for $52 million with $6 million of the original $58 million going to architect, land, permits and all the bells and whistles that go with new construction. Wiggins says they have asked for aide from the state in the amount of $6 million for furnishings inside the school, new desks, chairs, etcetera. If that comes through, it would furnish the Marianna K-8 school with much needed furnishings.
    Wiggins said there had been some concern about a playground for the elementary kids, “There is a half a football field for a playground for elementary. They will have plenty of playground.”
    Wiggins acknowledged the completion date is later than the original May date but said rain days and the damages from Hurricane Michael had definitely played a factor in this change. There were 21 days following Hurricane Michael that the property was saturated with water and work was delayed. Wiggins said, “The contractor knows the significance of this school opening in August and they are working diligently to make that happen. They were out there working New Year’s Day.”
    Wiggins said in closing, “We are looking at a school on the east end of the county, already have the property for it. It is almost dead center from Sneads to Grand Ridge and we are hopeful to get assistance in building that school in the near future.”


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here