Federal government grants School District extra $1M for schools’ construction

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The federal government has allocated an extra $1 million to the Indian River County School District for building two replacement schools.

The School Board, with minimal discussion, unanimously approved accepting the extra funds. The amount, now topping $26 million, will be used to build two new campuses for Vero Beach Elementary and Osceola Magnet.

The federal loan will be paid back through nearly no interest bonds.

“We have good fortune” with the process, School Board member Karen Disney-Brombach said.

Last month, the board approved a little more than $25 million in construction bonds for the two construction projects, both of which are in the district’s 5-year construction plans.

The School Board also approved buying the 14-acre site for Osceola Magnet’s new campus from Pointe West. The property’s sale price is $10.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava told the School Board, explaining that there were “kinks” that had to be worked out before a purchase agreement could be reached.

New School Board member Jeff Pegler said that the Pointe West purchase is unlike other property purchases the district has made in that this is a “beneficial deal” that cost “essentially nothing.”

The $26 million funds will come from the federal government in a nearly interest-free loan.

“It is, basically, free money,” Chief Financial Officer Carter Morrison told the School Board in November when the matter first came up. He estimates that the savings on interest would amount to about $20 million.

The funding comes after the School District applied for a $48 million loan in May. The federal government originally approved a maximum of $25.3 million.

The money will be used to construct a replacement campus for Vero Beach Elementary School, freeing up other funds for the construction of a portion of Osceola Magnet.

Disney-Brombach said Tuesday evening that she wouldn’t mind having the matter come up three or four more times if it meant an extra $1 million each time.

It’s “fine with me,” she said.

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