Charter school offers to buy former Hardeeville campus

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comJuly 25, 2013 

Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences Charter School has offered to buy the former Hardeeville school campus for $800,000.

The state-chartered school has been leasing the property from the Jasper County School District for $7,916 a month since it opened in August 2012.

The school signed a 10-year lease with an option for an additional 10 years. However, it said in a June 12 letter to the school board that it wants to convert the lease into a purchase agreement.

The letter indicates it would build a new school on the campus and that Royal Live Oaks also is considering buying other property near the campus.

The school hopes to make a decision about its future site by this summer or fall and asked for a response within two weeks.

An attempt Thursday to reach the academy's executive director and co-founder, Karen Wicks, was unsuccessful.

The county school district is reviewing the offer, according to spokeswoman Shellie Murdaugh.

"Their offer will be reviewed by staff and our board in the coming weeks, and we will be in conversation with them shortly," Murdaugh wrote in an email. "We have a lot of things to consider, including our future needs for that property, fair market value, the good work by the Wickses and the charter school board, and how all this fits into our long-range plans."

The letter states the school obtained two purchase options on more than 30 acres adjacent to the school site, with a full purchase price of $5,000 per acre.

Using that price, Royal Live Oaks offered to pay the district $162,750 for the 32.55-acre campus. It also offered to pay $620,000 -- or $10 per square foot -- for the "abandoned, pillaged" 62,000-square-foot campus building, as well as $17,250 for "soft values."

Follow reporter Tom Barton on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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