By Raymond Billy

The school advocacy group Citizens for Schools and Community Advancement made the decision Friday to postpone its anticipated Monday school board presentation, the group’s chairman Nathan Jones said Tuesday.

Jones and co-chairman Randy McCown jointly decided that the presentation needed fine-tuning, and other members agreed. The CSCA then decided to wait at least until after its Tuesday meeting before moving forward with recommendations on a new elementary school building.

Specifically, the scope of the new facility needed further examination, Jones said.

“We wanted to make sure we knew student ranges so we could better decide how big the new school should be,” Jones said. “These are aspects we needed to decide before we made our recommendation.”

A question on the collective minds of the public has been whether or not the new building would be additional or replace an existing campus. School Superintendent Stuart Bird made it clear that JISD would suspend educational activities in one of its elementary schools to accommodate a new building.

“At this time, there isn’t enough money in the budget to support an additional campus, but a replacement campus is definitely achievable,” Bird said.

In order to work within the district’s budget, Jones said CSCA wants to move forward on a larger campus with greater capacity, rather than increasing the number of elementary schools in Jacksonville from four to five.

“What the committee is focusing on is the state of our schools and the overcrowding. That’s the main issue we’re concerned with,” Jones said.

Bird said he was content with the postponement of the CSCA proposal.

“I'm not disappointed at all,” Bird said. “The CSCA has been very diligent in trying to put forth a proposal that the community can get behind. We expect them to make their recommendations soon and I expect the school board to support their findings.”

Estimates have pegged the opening of the new school at 2009 if ground is broken next Spring. For that to happen, citizens must approve a bond proposal in an election that could take place this Fall.

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