MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — The halls of Marianna Middle School have been virtually empty since March 2020, but the district is still paying to keep the lights on.
Superintendent Steve Benton, estimates the district is spending around $300 a day on bills to maintain the old Marianna Middle School, despite there being no students or teachers.
“So we got to looking at the bill, and from June to the end of January, was around $64,000,” Benton said.
Now, there’s talks of giving part of the campus to the city of Marianna.
“My understanding that they, out of all of the property there, they just want the gym and the five acres adjoining their property,” Benton said.
Benton said the district would rather put the money they’re spending on those bills toward education rather than empty buildings.
“$64,000 would pay for a teacher’s salary and benefits so I mean it’s — and money is tight so you know we want to, I mean we want to put money into educating kids, not in vacant buildings,” Benton said.
Back in 2014, when the Marianna K-8 school was proposed, in exchange for 80 acres the city wanted the Golson Elementary property to go to Jackson Hospital and the Marianna Middle School property to go to the city.
At Tuesday Night’s City Commission meeting, in a 3-to-2 vote, the commissioners voted to only take part of the campus.
Marianna City Manager, Jim Dean, said he can’t speak for the entire city commission, but he said cost may have played a part in how the commissioners voted to only take part of the campus.
“Mr. Roberts express some concern about the cost of the city of carrying that $300 a day becomes an expense to the city and it would have a negative impact on the city budget,” Dean said.
Dean said the city would plan to use the gymnasium for the city basketball league. The school board will vote on the proposed deal at their next school board meeting. If the deal is approved, the rest of the campus will go on the market for any interested buyers.