Jackson County School Board moves forward with plans to build new school in Grand Ridge

Many Sneads residents are outraged after the Jackson County School Board moves forward with construction of a new school in Grand Ridge, where students at Sneads Elementary will eventually be relocated to.

There were three options for the location of the school – Grand Ridge, the Four Points area of

Sneads, and where Sneads Elementary is currently located.

Due to environmental and financial issues, the board decided to have the school built in Grand Ridge.

Superintendent Steve Benton reasoned that Sneads has a high school with grades 9-12.

“If we don’t have something in Grand Ridge, Grand Ridge will be left without any school, so this is saving both communities,” Benton said.

More building will be added to the existing Grand Ridge school to accommodate the students from Sneads.

Despite hundreds of signatures on a petition aimed to keep the Sneads community school open, on Tuesday Jackson County School Board members unanimously voted approved the districts five-year plan, which includes construction of the K-8 combination school in Grand Ridge.

Sneads Elementary will operate for at least another two years.

The state legislature has given the school board an estimated $53 million for the project.

The planned cost for the first phase of the new construction is $35,045,700.

One parent who has three children who attend Sneads Elementary said she is considering homeschooling if the school is closed.

Marie Collins said the school board members already had their minds made up despite public outcry from Sneads residents.

Collins, who attended Grand Ridge School in the early 2000s, said the school was already old and dilapidated when she went there.

Although most of the funding for the school will consist of appropriations from the state, the board also voted to spend $3,777,964 2025 in tax revenue to renovate existing buildings at

Grand Ridge School during the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Additionally, the district budgeted $3,931,632 for renovations to the school during the 2024-25 fiscal year and $4,097,628 for the 2025-26 fiscal year for what school officials anticipate being a “state-of-the-art” campus with increased security measures.

In the meantime, Sneads Elementary will still operate for at least another two years.

Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service


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