By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Seller and BOE taking 6 extra months on deal for new SEB High School site
Bulloch County Schools

The Bulloch County Board of Education and owners of land the board contracted in March to buy as the site for a new Southeast Bulloch High School are giving themselves six more months to close on the deal. They have also made a tradeoff regarding certain details.

In March, the board unanimously agreed to contract with the current owners, organized as Mac’s Landing LLC, for the 89-acre tract on Brooklet-Denmark Road with a final purchase price of $2.35 million. The contract gave the school system a 120-day “due diligence” period that began March 1 to complete an evaluation of the site or potentially back out of the deal.

The original contract predicted a closing date “on or before July 1, 2022.” However, the Board of Education, by a 6-1 vote at its June 23 meeting, agreed to a contract amendment that resets the closing date to “not before December 28, 2022, but not later than January 6, 2023.” A draft of the amendment gave the “not later” date as Dec. 31, 2022, but in recommending approval during the board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson said this was being changed to Jan. 6.

With no comments, the board acted last week to approve on a motion by District 3 member Stuart Tedders, seconded by District 6 member Jay Cook. District 4 member April Newkirk voted “no,” and board Chair Mike Sparks, the District 2 member, was absent. Vice Chair Heather Mims, the District 7 member, conducted the meeting.

Asked this week if the school system leaders had wanted more time, Wilson said the sellers requested the extension.

“It was a tradeoff each way, and then there was kind of a neutral factor,” he said.  “They asked for another six months, which we gave them …  and we don’t have to pay interest after (July 1).”


Limits ‘per diem’

The original contract required the school district to pay Mac’s Landing LLC $103 a day from March 1 until the completion of the sale. But it set no limit for how much this could amount to if the parties took longer than 120 days to close.

The amendment limits this payment of “per diem interest expense” to the period of March 1 through July 1. In effect, the cost of this advance payment – which the buyers would keep even if the deal were abandoned – appears to have been capped at $12,669, if all 123 days count.


Charity appraisal clause removed

The purchase price remains unchanged at $2.35 million. However, another clause in the original contract made the deal contingent on the land appraising for at least $3.35 million, or $1 million more than the purchase price. That was intended to allow the seller to treat the difference as a charitable contribution for tax purposes. The amendment removes this clause.

“Purchaser will, however, cooperate with Seller should Seller decide to pursue application for any available charitable contribution for tax purposes,” the revised wording states.

The contract amendment was drawn up to be signed on behalf of the school district by Wilson and, on behalf of Mac’s Landing LLC, by “member/managers” Jack Conner, who is a local real estate agent, and John E. Lavender, owner of the Statesboro-based Lavender & Associates construction and design firm.

The tract, immediately south of the current Southeast Bulloch Middle School, was proposed last year as the site of a 109-lot residential subdivision. The Bulloch County Board of Commissioners in December unanimously approved a zoning change to allow this, despite opposition voiced by many county residents, especially in the Southeast Bulloch area.

But the Board of Education in March heard from several community residents and retired educators who supported keeping Southeast Bulloch High School close to its current location if a new one is to be built. The Mac’s Landing site does that, and little if any public opposition has been heard at board meetings.

Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or E-SPLOST, funds would be used to cover the $2.35 million cost, which amounts to about $26,400 an acre.


Not slowing down

Wilson and Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Troy Brown, talking to the school board about other E-SPLOST projects future school construction, noted that materials costs have soared to record levels. They suggested this could be a reason to wait for an eventual cost decline for some projects.

But Wilson noted that the construction of the new high school is probably a year away, anyhow, with planning and design yet to be done.

“So is the market right, right now, for bidding? No, it’s not in the buyer’s favor,” he said Thursday. “Are we going to slow down as a result of that? No, we’re going to go ahead and move forward with the design process… and at that point we’ll be probably a year down the road and we’ll assess the market then.”


Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter