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Thomas responds to delay

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Times may be tough fiscally in Grayson County, but school leaders remain optimistic that their facilities improvement plan will save taxpayers money in the long run.

Earlier this month, the Grayson County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution postponing Phase II of the school system's long-range facilities improvement plan, which includes additions and renovations to Independence Elementary and a new school similar to the one being built in the western end of the county.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas told The Gazette on Tuesday that it is unfortunate that the school system's plan has been delayed.

"Our comprehensive plan will provide modern facilities and improved educational opportunities for our youth across the county," she said. "In addition, it will ultimately cost the taxpayers less than maintaining our aged buildings."

The supervisors' decision came as a continuing effort by the county to identify both short- and long-term financial threats, challenges and opportunities.

The resolution passed on Jan. 14 declared that the board, "realizes the citizenry is unable to shoulder significant increases in taxes and fees in this exigent economic times."

Although the board of supervisors had previously passed a resolution to continue with the improvement plan, the county continues to face "significant financial threats" and challenges.

The resolution further states that the county is "regrettably in no position to encumber additional debt obligations at this time."

Though unfortunate, Thomas said, "we will be looking forward to better economic conditions for our county and the opportunity to get back on track with our facilities improvement plan."

In July, the school board contracted with Cassell Real Estate to find a site for the new school in the eastern end of the county.

However, Thomas noted that no property has been purchased.

The action taken by the supervisors will not forgo Phase II, but will simply delay it until economic conditions improve in the county.

Phase I of the plan includes the new Grayson Highlands School in the Grant community and additions and renovations to Fries Middle School.

Both projects continue to be delayed due to poor weather conditions, and an opening date for Grayson Highlands has yet to be set.