JUPITER FARMS, Fla. - In search of money to offset budget woes, school district officials this week decided to explore selling a ranch purchased nearly 12 years ago from film legend Burt Reynolds.
Facilities Management Chief Joe Sanches said he plans to get an appraisal of the 153 acres off Jupiter Farms Road near 159th Court North .
The district bought the land from Reynolds for $3.85 million in September 1999 because, Sanches said, Jupiter Farms residents were demanding their own middle and high schools.
Since then, the district has built or rebuilt 91 schools but none in Jupiter Farms.
Reynolds had a petting zoo, homes and a barn on the property and shot scenes there for the movie Smokey and the Bandit and the television series B.L Stryker. He also married actress Loni Anderson at a chapel on the property in 1988.
Barry Present, the district's real estate services director, said most of th e buildings became termite-infested and had to be torn down. All that remains is the Town and Country Feed and Supply store, which pays a monthly rent to the school district.
The district planned at least one school on the site, Present said. The only area school is Jupiter Farms Elementary, whose students move on to middle schools in other areas .
Population growth since 1999 still does not require a middle or high school in Jupiter Farms, Present said.
After rebuilding Galaxy Elementary in Boynton Beach next year, the district won't be able to afford to build any new schools for at least 10 to 15 years, Sanches said.
He suggested the district keep 30 acres of the Reynolds property and sell the rest if it wants to build a school in the future.
Candy Helms, who has a fifth-grader who will soon be attending Watson B. Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, said that when she moved to Jupiter Farms 10 years ago parents were going to town hall meetings pushing for a middle school. But since being told by the district that the population is not dense enough to warrant another school, many parents have put those efforts on the back burner.
"It has been talked about for so long that now it is sort of at the bottom of everyone's list," Helms said.
There are no interested buyers for the land, Present said. The district tried to solicit offers to lease the property last year but got no responses, he said.