Request denied. A suggestion that county commissioners intervene and purchase additional land for Irving College School has been rejected.
“I know the community is probably disappointed in not getting the land, but I don’t think the County Commission can be in the real estate business,” said Diane Starkey, who chairs the county’s Education Committee.
The response came after Director of Schools Bobby Cox relayed a question posed by School Board member James Bennett during last month’s Board of Education meeting. Bennett asked Cox to approach the county and ask if it would consider buying the land.
“The motion was made to ask if the commission would have any interest in purchasing the property,” said Cox. “If you have any questions, I will try to answer them. That was the motion that came from the board and I was asked to bring that to you.”
Over the last several weeks, County Commissioners Randy England and Scott Rubley have taken issue with a School Board decision not to spend $150,000 and buy 10 acres of additional land that borders the present Irving College campus. The commissioners say the school system has already established a precedent of overpaying for land for the Morrison and Dibrell school projects.
Historically, the county funds the construction and expansion of schools and the school system purchases any additional land it feels is needed.
When County Commissioner Terry Bell asked Cox why the School Board didn’t purchase the land if it wanted it, Cox said financial projections for the upcoming fiscal year prompted his recommendation to the board to not purchase the land because the project can move forward without it.
England says the students at Irving College deserve better.
“You say you can do this project without the additional land,” England said. “However, you are squeezing everything to where there will be a smaller playground, smaller ball field. We can’t even put a pavilion in like some of the other schools have. It would be awful nice to have that land. It’s like we are trying to put five pounds of peanut butter in a one-pound can. We don’t have room to grow. The land is right there and you need to get it.”
County Commissioner Carlene Brown suggested Cox revisit the land purchase later when his budget for fiscal year 2015-16 has been set and he has a better idea of what monies he has available.
The discussion was held during Monday evening’s Education Committee meeting after an update of school projects.