Delays for Future Site of Francis Marion Military Academy
Members of the Board of Trustees at the Francis Marion Military Academy were hoping to have a new site in about two to three years, but they said it may take longer because the city is charging them more than $81,000 in permit and inspections fees.
"The state law says we are exempt from permit fees," said Charles Demenzes.
Demenzes is the chairman of the Board of Trustees at Francis Marion Military Academy; a charter school in Ocala.
He's frustrated about the costs for permitting and inspections that the city is charging for their new campus.
"Eight-one thousand is an exhorbitant amount," said Demenzes.
The project is going to cost about $4 million. Demenzas said right now the school doesn't get money from the state.
"There is additional money we can get from the state once we get our own property, but we can't get it yet. We have to have our own property. We have to be on the property, operating as a school," said Demenzes.
They do not charge tuition,so it's almost impossible to come up with $81,000.
The city of Ocala hired attorney Jimmy Gooding.
He said the costs include both permit and inspection fees and the academy does have an alternative solution.
"It appears to me under state law ordinarily the school system not the city would be doing the work that the academy is asking the city to do," said Gooding.
He said if school board chooses to do the work the academy wouldn't be charged $81,000.
"The city council President Suzy Heinbokel was preparing to go to the school board meeting. Before the meeting she actually got a letter signed by the School Board Chairman saying we want the city to do the work," said Gooding.
Marion County School Board spokesperson Kevin Christian said the construction and building department told Superintendent Jim Yancey that they don't have the statutory authority to inspect charter schools because the school board does not own or is not paying for the property.
Demenzas agrees with the school board and strongly believes the state law exempts the academy from all the permit fees.
"We do not belong to the marion county public school system. We are not part of it. We are separate. We're autonomous," said Demenzes.
Gooding said the city council will considering waiving the fee at the meeting on November 6,2012.
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