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High school debt paid off

System settles up two years early

POSTED: September 11, 2013 4:00 a.m.

After 16 years, Dawson County High School is now the property of the Dawson County Board of Education.

As allowed in an item in the fiscal year 2014 budget, the remaining debt on the bond for the high school building has been paid off.

The bond was set to be paid in full in 2015, so this will mark a two-year early debt reduction for the board.

"We feel like we have a quality facility," said Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter. "We are glad the funds came in at a rate that allowed us to pay the building off two years early."

Construction of the high school began in 1994.

"For many years, we had a combined high and middle school," Porter said. "Before that, it was a kindergarten through 12th grade campus. As our numbers grew, the need arose to split the middle and high school into separate buildings."

The original building cost about $8 million to build. Unlike other new schools in Dawson, the high school wasn't paid for with sales tax money.

"This school wasn't built with [1-cent sales tax] funds," Porter said. "Since this one wasn't part of a referendum, we couldn't pay it off with [those]. A substantial loan and bonds were sold to satisfy that debt. So for 16 years, we've had to pay .4 mils each year to the high school debt."

The school opened on Dec. 1, 1997. About 10 years later, the school system added on a 15-classroom wing at a cost of about $1 million, bringing the total construction debt, not including interest, to $9 million.

The high school has a capacity of 1,290 students. If a facility of that size were to be built today, the cost would be substantially more, officials said.

"We've looked at the costs lately of another building when we thought things were still growing," said Stacy Gilleland, facilities director. "A new building, not including fields and grounds, would cost well over $30 million."

According to Porter, $30 million would be an entire sales tax program.

In other news, the board of education has renewed its youth health services contract with the county to provide access to funding from such sources as the tobacco settlement and Northside Hospital donations, as well as the state.

It is through these partnerships that the school system is able to have a head nurse and one nurse in each of its schools.

 

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