In this article, we will discuss the highlights of a business meeting held on February 4th, 2020, regarding the long-range facilities plan for property acquisition in Panola County. The meeting was called to order by the School Board, and various updates were provided by Dr. Coggins from Setson and Mr. White, who presented the long-range facilities plan.
The main discussion revolved around the need for property acquisition due to the state legislature’s reduction in allowable millage for school districts. As a result, school districts have had to seek increased local support to maintain and improve their current facilities and prepare for future needs. This includes the need for a new school site, which was the focus of this meeting.
The School Advisory Planning Committee
The School Advisory Planning Committee (SPAC) was formed as part of an interlocal agreement and consisted of representatives from the city, county, and educational institutions. Their role was to review and recommend potential new school sites based on various criteria, such as proximity to existing homes, serving current and future student populations, walkability, safety, and adherence to official planning and land use regulations.
After eight months of deliberation, the committee recommended Property No. 1, located on the edge of the county’s urban reserve. However, this property became unavailable due to a contract. The recommendation then shifted to the Oakmont Property, which met the required criteria for a new neighborhood school. The school district has been in discussions with the property owners of Oakmont and is evaluating the potential for acquisition.
The Importance of Securing Property
During the meeting, the need to secure property for future school sites was emphasized. With the growth of the county and the development of new residential areas, it is essential to have available land for the construction of schools. Failure to take advantage of opportunities like the Oakmont Property could result in a lack of suitable sites for future schools.
The board discussed the importance of securing property in areas with increasing student populations, such as the vicinity of Gainesville High School. As the high school undergoes improvements and construction work, it is crucial to have a temporary location where students can be relocated. Therefore, the board is considering property adjacent to the school for this purpose.
The Acquisition Process
To ensure transparency and adhering to the district’s policies, the district has followed a thorough process for property acquisition. This includes conducting appraisals and inspections, negotiating with property owners, and finalizing agreements within the parameters set by the district’s policy.
In the case of the Oakmont Property, two appraisals have been completed, and the district is hopeful of reaching an agreement with the property owners. Once the due diligence process is complete, the board will be presented with a finalized agreement for approval.
Future Plans and Expansion
The discussed property acquisitions are not only for immediate needs but also for future growth and expansion. As the county continues to develop and the demand for new schools increases, having available land is crucial. The acquired properties, including Oakmont and the site near Gainesville High School, will provide opportunities for the construction of middle schools, elementary schools, or even high schools in the future.
In conclusion, the business meeting held on February 4th, 2020, addressed the long-range facilities plan for property acquisition in Panola County. The focus was on securing suitable sites for future schools and ensuring the district’s ability to meet the needs of its growing student population. The board discussed the importance of taking advantage of available opportunities and following a thorough process for property acquisition. The acquisitions will position the district for future growth and expansion, providing a foundation for the construction of various types of schools.