With the Macon County School District kicking off the start of the 2012-2013 school year today, Macon County officials held the opening and dedication of the brand new $14 million Iotla Valley Elementary School last Monday.
Both current and past members of the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education who have worked on the long range plan of improving the infrastructure of schools in the county since 1995, were joined by school system staff and community members for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
County Manager Jack Horton opened the ceremony with a quote from former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, “It is amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
Horton went on to say that although Iotla Valley was the result of a joint effort from county commissioners and school board members, the school was built for the children of Macon County.
“This school doesn't belong to the county and it doesn't belong to the school board, it belongs to the kids,” said Horton.
Construction on the school first began in October 2010 and is the last project in the plan which began 17 years ago. The long range plan, which in total, put $43 million into rebuilding Macon County Schools, included building Mountain View Intermediate and Macon Early College, and improvements to all other schools in the district.
The $14 million K-4 school located on Iotla Church Road was financed by Macon County Board of Commissioners with Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) through BB&T for a term of 17 years with a net interest rate of .48 percent. Iotla-Valley encompasses 94,000 square feet making it the largest elementary school in Macon County, and on average, ended up costing about $119 a square foot to construct.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan stated that although during his 43 years of working in public education he has been a part of countless school construction projects, he believes Iotla Valley is the finest facility he has seen. “This school is remarkable,” said Duncan. “I don't think I have ever seen a school built with the per square foot cost that this one has.”
“This school will be here for decades to come and it had a lot of people involved to get this done,” said Commissioner Ronnie Beale during the ceremony. “There were also naysayers that said it’d never get done... If you see a more beautiful school in a more beautiful setting, let me know, I’d love to go look at it.”
Commission Chairman Kevin Corbin noted that when school opens on Thursday, it will mark the first time in 30 years that students will not have to have class in a mobile unit.
Despite suffering a major heart attack last Wednesday, Board of Education Chairman Tommy Cabe attended the opening ceremony. “I told my wife that there was no way I would miss this opening,” said Cabe. “Building this school was a way for the county and school board to work together on a vision with the best interest of the students in mind. Thank you everyone for being here and for everything you have done to see this through to completion.”
Macon County school board member Tommy Baldwin said that the completion of the long range plan proves how much education matters in Macon County. “The citizens of Macon County have always been one to stand behind education. Always. We have as a board also and I’d like to thank all of you for that,” said Baldwin.