BoE declares Rivers Elem. ‘surplus,’ paves way for sale

File photo from 2011 of Rivers Elementary School.

It has been six months since the announcement that an undisclosed party was interested in buying the Rivers Elementary School property on Sandy Creek Road north of Fayetteville.

Some indication of the potential sale was given Monday when the Fayette County Board of Education voted to surplus the property. Declaring the property as surplus legally paves the way for an eventual sale.

The unanimous vote came after board members returned from executive session. There was no comment from the board as to who the interested party might be.

However, developers of the 288.5-acre tract across the road from Rivers have hoped out loud at a county planning commission meeting that the elementary school campus could be purchased as part of the overall movie-TV production studios complex being proposed for the county’s rural center.

There has been significant speculation that Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) might be interested in using the 86,172 square-foot facility that contains 43 classrooms and was designed to accommodate 675 elementary school students. Other than housing a portion of the county’s special education students, the $12 million school has remained virtually empty since construction was completed in 2009.

The Rivers property for years was the centerpiece of a rural area that featured scattered homes and pasture land. But that changed recently, and now London-based Pinewood Studios is in process of acquiring the zoning necessary to construct the company’s first studio in the United States directly across Sandy Creek Road.

If sold, the proceeds must be used to cover bond debt and cannot be used for general fund expenditures.

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