Columbia County commissioners approve funding for SAIL charter school

CSRA News

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – The road for the School for Arts Infused Learning or SAIL in Evans looks bright.

“It’s a family. It’s more than just a school. We’re excited that this is really going to give us a chance to move forward,” said Melissa Nemer, a mother.

Tuesday, Columbia County commissioners approved a bond exemption at the request of SAIL leaders.

SAIL Executive Director Gene Dunn explained, “Our funding doesn’t change much. The state funds us per student and we’re already at our capacity for our enrollment so the only way that we would get more income would be for the state to increase. So, we had to make some changes, and this is a huge one for us.

Under the commission’s ruling, SAIL is set to receive $13 million.

“It’s a lot different from regular public school, just sitting at a desk and writing on paper and stuff,” said SAIL seventh-grader Olivia Boston.

Dunn said, “We’re so excited about it. It means we can now refinance for our building which is going to lower our payments and we can put more towards our scholars and our staff so it’s a win, win for everybody.”

According to Dunn, their interest rate was more than 10 percent but now it’s going to be significantly lower. The school’s board chairman reports about $8.5 million of the new funding will be put back into education while the rest would be for school maintenance and upkeep. Columbia County is not liable under the approved bond resolution.

Dunn added, “That was part of the confusion. There’s a federal law that says anytime you’re refinancing using bonds, which is a cheaper way to go than a traditional finance, there’s a checkbox the federal government says they have to sign off on it even though they’re not liable.”

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