By: Melissa E. Holsman, Treasure Coast Newspapers
STUART — Elementary students in Palm City and Jensen Beach must wait two more years to have new schools, but the $61 million in construction is about to move ahead.
The Martin County School Board voted Jan. 22 to build both elementary schools at the same time next to the existing schools, then demolish the old buildings.
The schools will cost about $31 million each, and the district will borrow the money and repay it with revenue from the new sales tax, which voters approved in November.
Board members wanted both schools built at the same time.
The new sales tax began generating revenu Jan. 1. It's expected to bring in $15 million annually for seven years.
“I think the people of Martin County spoke, and said it’s time you build these new schools,” Board member Michael DiTerlizzi said, voicing his support for simultaneous construction.
For years school officials have wanted to replace the aging and storm-damaged elementary schools, but a lack of money stalled any progress.
The Nov. 6 referendum, which increased the sales tax from 6 to 6.5 percent, will cover the school district’s capital expenses, including building construction, repairs and address a $98 million maintenance backlog that has accumulated over a decade…