Byrneville Elementary May Forgo Multi-Million Dollar Construction Project, At Least For Now

August 8, 2019

Byrneville Elementary School may put the brakes on a multi-million construction project, at least for now.

“I am ready to table it,” Principal Dee Wolfe-Sullivan told the school’s board of directors Wednesday afternoon. “Let’s look at what we have…and do what we can to make it better.” Sullivan citing rising employee costs and costs associated with mandated school safety measures that might make a mortgage payment harder.

During meetings with bankers and financial experts, the board learned in recent months that financing their desired multi-million dollar project would be tight.

Board chairperson Melanie Killam expressed Wednesday that she would be willing to look at cutting a planned 10 classroom building down to a half dozen classrooms with expansion capabilities.

Without a quorum present, the board was unable to take an official vote to table the building project Wednesday afternoon.

In June, a banker told the board that the charter school does not have the enrollment or funds needed for a $7.7 million building project they have been considering for over a year.

The board had discussed $7.7 million for a new building with 10 classrooms, a 1,000 square foot multipurpose room and associated spaces, and a new cafetorium with a serving kitchen. United Bank Vice President Chris Walker said the school can afford a loan of just $2.185 million with an enrollment of 205 students. Wednesday, just days before the start of the 2019 school year, Byrneville’ enrollment stood at 185.

Mike Marshall of the firm Sam Marshall Architects told the board two months ago that they could cut their costs by constructing a six classroom building, reducing amenities and using a metal building instead of masonry.

Byrneville Elementary’s main building was constructed in 1941, and many classrooms and the school’s library are located in aging portables.

Pictured: Byrneville Elementary School Principal Dee Wolfe-Sullivan explains rising costs to board of directors members Melanie Killam and Brandy Carter Wednesday afternoon. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

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