VALDOSTA — Lowndes County Schools has some big expenses coming up. 

The Lowndes High School phase-out construction plan was approved at the Monday night board of education meeting. The plan will take down parts of the building in phases so the school will not have to use trailers as classrooms.

The cost is approximately $24 million to take down four sections of the high school, though that is not the full price tag of the project, which will cost about $60 million.

Ken Overman, assistant superintendent, gave the board the payment plan that will draw from the system’s budget, state funding and bonds.

The state has promised the project about $17 million. County schools will add $13 million from the general fund to invest in the project, Overman said — $3 million of the general fund will not be repaid. 

An additional $8 million from the special purpose local option sales tax will be put into the project, which Overman said they are taking about $500,000 out of each monthly SPLOST collection. 

Then the school system will need a remaining $22 million in bonds to complete the project, which the Lowndes County Board of Education plans to pay back in less than three years after construction at less than $1.9 million in interest.

“Our approach of looking at that is that we’ve encumbered that money,” Lowndes County Schools Superintendent Wes Taylor said. “We would rather spend it on the actual capital project versus interest.”

The payment plan has changed from the original proposal.

In early 2018, Taylor proposed building a new multi-story building on the site of the core structure of the current high school with a proposed cost of about $50 million. Then the proposed cost would be covered with $20 million in state money with the rest coming from SPLOST funds.

Though much smaller, another expense the board approved this week was for 10 new school buses.

Roger Christie, County Schools transportation director, presented costs to the board. Each bus costs $89,892, bringing the total to $898,920.

However, three buses will be paid for by the state of Georgia on a bond replacement program at $231,960, which brings the actual cost from SPLOST at $666,960.

The next Lowndes County Board of Education meeting is 6 p.m., April 9, at the central office.

Katelyn Umholtz is a reporter with the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be contacted at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256.

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