Note: This blog has been modified since its original posting to correct an error concerning school board rezoning.
Let’s connect the dots on a couple of recent news stories, shall we?
1. From the Gainesville Sun: Duval Elementary eyed as potential youth center
“Officials are discussing transforming Duval Elementary School into a cultural arts center for young people to keep them off the streets and possibly reduce gun violence that is on the rise in the city.”
2. From WUFT: Real estate agents in school board land deal are accused of ‘working both sides,’ increasing cost to Alachua County taxpayers
“Two prominent real estate agents were at the center of a controversial school board land deal – the first major purchase funded by a new half-cent sales tax – that resulted in the district buying a property last year for twice as much money as the land sold for in late 2018, according to interviews and a review of hundreds of pages of emails and documents.”
Where to begin?
The notion that a couple of Realtors might have sweet-talked (I’m being diplomatic here, folks) the School Board into paying a vastly inflated price, $3.68 million, for land in Jonesville is a classic example of adding insult to injury. By all rights Realtors should have made the district a present of that land.
Why? Because whenever prospective home buyers are lured out into the furthest reaches of autoAmerican exurbia the Number One sales pitch they get is: “You’ll love it here folks, it’s got great schools.”
Which raises a critical question: Does the school system “chase” sprawl or incentivize it when it purchases a former cow pasture out in the hinterlands and turns it into a new school?
Meanwhile, the system no longer needs Duval Elementary School, in east Gainesville, because all of the action (sprawl) is in the west. So maybe the city will take it over and turn it into a community and cultural arts center for all of the kids that have been “left behind.”
Someplace for east Gainesville kids to go when their long school bus ride is over at the end of the day.
We’re closing schools on one side of the county and opening schools on the other side of the couny. This so Realtors can keep saying “You’re going to love it here folks….”