The Effingham County School System has purchased 40.68 acres of land on Fort Howard Road, and that land will be used for a future elementary school.
Superintendent Randy Shearouse said the board looked at several locations before deciding on the purchase, which came to $812,427.43
“This piece had water and sewage, which made it more appealing,” Shearouse said.
He said having water and sewer lowers the insurance cost for the school. The site also met all of the requirements in place for a school site.
Shearouse said the area is appealing because Blandford Elementary is nearing capacity and a large number of students are from the Fort Howard Road area. Rincon Elementary is also nearing capacity. A planned Old Augusta Road Bypass will also remove a large portion of truck traffic from the road.
Shearouse said it took more than a year to look at the various properties. A deal for one tract, where the owner wanted to give the property to the school system, fell through. Another didn’t have water and sewer. A third had a power line running through it, he explained.
The land was purchased from Coastal Premier. James Dasher, school board chairperson, was a part owner of the land.
Shearouse said he could not remember how the board became aware of the property. Dasher said he did not know either.
Dasher said he did not participate in any of the discussions the board had on the property. Shearouse said the board asked Dasher to leave the room prior to any discussions.
Shearouse said that Dasher was one of five partners, and therefore has a minority interest in the property.
“His partners control whether they sold the property,” he said.
Shearouse said he felt the price was fair.
Dasher said the school system paid the same amount for the property that Premier Coastal paid for it two years ago.
“We went through a lot of channels to make sure what we were doing was correct,” Dasher said. “No real estate commission was involved. No one made any money off this deal. I told my partners the only way I would agree to allow the board to buy it was if there was no money made by anybody on it. All the contracts disclose that I am a real estate agent making no profit and a school board member.”
Dasher said there were three law offices looking over the agreement to make sure everything was appropriate.
Shearouse said a timeline to build on the property, and when the system begins to make plans, will take two years before a school is on the site.
He said the system would need to decide if a new school will be built first, or if there will be new wings built onto Blandford Elementary.
“I feel like it’s a great piece of property,” Shearouse said. “It’s located in a great area. It’s a great site for a new elementary school.”