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Saturday May 23rd, 2015 12:17AM

Ga. school sold film studio at loss to taxpayers

By The Associated Press
FAYETTEVILLE - A Georgia school system is selling a school to a film studio at a loss of more than $4 million to taxpayers.

Rivers Elementary School in Fayette County never housed more than a few dozen students since the day it opened four years ago, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

An investment firm, River's Rock II LLC, is acquiring Rivers Elementary School for $5.17 million. The company is building the American headquarters of British film giant Pinewood Studios. Studio executives plan to use the 86,000-square-foot school for office space.

Critics view the school's construction as a prime example of how some Georgia school system's overbuilt just before the recession hit, slowing growth in the counties around Atlanta.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Fayette schools were adding 1,200 to 1,500 students a year. But when the recession hit and the housing industry collapsed, enrollment in Fayette County schools declined sharply.

The school system and its taxpayers were still on the hook to build the school. The money to build it came from a voter-approved bond that carried penalties if the school wasn't built.

The school never came close to serving the 700 students that were expected to sit in its classrooms and walk its halls.


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