Irving College School will not get the additional 10 acres its supporters wanted as the School Board rejected spending the $150,000 asking price Thursday night.
“I understand,” said a disappointed Tanya Bess who was the lone member of the School Board to vote yes on the measure to purchase the surrounding property. “Hopefully we can revisit this at some point.”
Bess pushed for the extra property to go with the $3 million-plus school upgrade and expansion which is about to begin at the rural southern Warren County campus. She said by buying the land it would allow the school to put in a second entrance to the campus, allow the playground to be closer to the school, allow for better parking, and alleviate concerns about having enough space for the sanitary sewer should the system fail. She also pointed out the school system heavily overpaid for land in the recent Dibrell and Morrison building projects.
“It’s nice when we see pride taken in our school campuses,” Bess told the board before they voted, noting the present plan has the upgrade and expansion barely fitting in the land the county owns.
The vote itself was allowed because fellow School Board member Bill Zechman seconded her motion for a vote. Bess’ attempt to bring the land question to a vote two months ago died for lack of a second. Zechman seconded her motion because he wanted discussion on the issue. However, he admitted the discussion did nothing to change his mind.
The vote was over quickly with the measure failing 4-1 with James Bennett absent.
Zechman assured Bess, and County Commissioner Randy England, both of whom have been outspoken supporters of buying the extra acreage around Irving College School, it is nothing personal against the school.
“Don’t think this shows any less concern we have for Irving College,” Zechman declared, noting that England, as a member of the County Commission, should use his influence to get the commission to fund the land.
With the rejection by the School Board, questions turned to the Warren County Commission. However, Director of Schools Bobby Cox said his discussions with the county have come up empty as they said they did not want to “set a precedent” by buying land for a school. Zechman lamented the decision, noting the county has deeper pockets than the school system.
“They have a $9 million fund balance,” Zechman said of the county. “They could write a check today.”