Nobody has offered us any money for Blandford and nobody has told us they would buy Blandford. You can put that in the paper.Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford
RINCON — During Thursday’s speech to the Rotary Club of Effingham County, Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford paused dramatically to set up an important point.
“Blandford (Elementary School) has not been sold,” Ford said at The Herald Center. “Nobody has offered us any money for Blandford and nobody has told us they would buy Blandford. You can put that in the paper.”
Ford was referring to speculation that OmniTRAX, a transportation and transportation infrastructure, would buy the Effingham County Board of Education’s school next to the 2,700-acre Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub on McCall Road.
“People talk all the time about it,” Ford said.
The board does have new plans for Blandford, however.
“We’ve been working with OmniTRAX on some negotiation on some of their land that they own along with the (Effingham County Industrial Development Authority),” Ford said. “We are going to add twenty-four classrooms over at Blandford to help with the growth in that area.”
The additions will increase Blandford’s capacity to at least 1,500 students, Ford added.
Ford said the district’s enrollment of nearly 13,000 has been growing by nearly 50 students a day since school started Aug. 5.
“We are growing pretty quickly,” he said. “We have a lot going on. We just added twelve classrooms at South Effingham Elementary School to bridge that gap.”
The board will soon send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to add classrooms to Ebenezer Elementary School.
“We are adding on at Effingham County High School,” Ford added. “That RFP should come out later in the fall. We’re thinking about some growth there and five or ten years down the road.”
The board is also still looking for land for another much-needed middle school and a possible elementary school.
“There is a lot of growth going on in the district and we are looking forward to being able to continue to make good decisions, and house our students and our families in wonderful educational facilities,” the superintendent said. “As you travel across the state, that is one thing you will see. We’ve been able to put our kids in really nice buildings and we’ve been able to do it with ESPLOST.”
ESPLOST is a one percent sales tax that is used solely for educational purposes. Thanks to it, the entire $21 million cost of Rincon Elementary School, built in 2018, will be paid off next year.
“Thanks for shopping local,” Ford said. “In (each of) the last three months, we’ve received over $800,000 (from ESPLOST). That’s because of people like you and, of course, the ones that travel (Hwys 21, 80 and 17) everyday that are spending their dollars in Effingham County.”