The Baptist College of Florida is moving ahead with their plans to expand into Marianna at the Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center. Although the Florida Baptist Convention has the long-vacant Marianna property listed for sale at a price ranging from $2 million to $4 million, the Convention’s board of directors last April decided to consider giving the growing Baptist College in Graceville permission to use the campus for an expansion.
The Convention board “placed a hold on the marketing of Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center in Marianna to give the Baptist College of Florida, located in Graceville, an opportunity to develop a usage plan for the property if it were deeded over to the college.” That is according to an article in the Florida Baptist Witness, the Convention’s newsletter.
In a press release issued last week by the college, BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen reported that the BCF board of trustees met in Graceville on June 2-3. At that meeting, Kinchen explained that the college had requested that the “State Board of Missions” give the college an opportunity to conduct a feasibility study and present a plan for the use of the Marianna property. That study has been completed and will be presented to the state board at its August 2016 meeting.
“Thus far,” last week’s BCF press release said, “discussions have been held with a broad range of individuals and groups both inside the state convention and beyond. Responses by all parties have been overwhelmingly positive toward the college developing the property as part of its overall program. Trustees were told that most of the study had been completed, but that there are a few elements left to be addressed before a final plan can be presented.”
BCF’s plans are to present “the final feasibility report and vote on a formal request to be made to the state board at its meeting in August,” the news release continued. “The recommendation from the president (at the BCF June meeting) was approved unanimously and enthusiastically by the BCF trustees.” Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director/Treasurer Tommy Green was present at the June BCF meeting, the news release added.
Also at the June meeting, the BCF trustees approved the 2016-17 operating budget for the college in the amount of $6.8 million, representing a 1.7 percent increase over the previous year. BCF recently opened a new $1 million cafeteria and plans to break ground on a “major new Education Center later in 2016,” the news release said. BCF is located on 250 acres on the east side of Graceville and has about 462 current undergraduate students. SportsPower International had an option to buy the Blue Springs Conference Center in 2015, but the deal was cancelled by SportsPower before a sale was made. Located on 90 acres on the south side of the Indian Springs subdivision, the Blue Springs campus is valued at the property appraiser’s office at about $4 million, exempt. BCF Public Relations Director Sandra Richards confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the college hopes to present a final plan for approval at the August state convention meeting.
BCF recently was ranked the 8th Best College in Florida for Online Courses. (The University of Florida was ranked #1.) BCF also was named the “Safest College in Florida” by BackgroundChecks.org, a site devoted to public safety. The BCF Education division was identified this year as being one of the top five schools in Florida offering degrees for students looking to become a teacher by ToBecomeATeacher.org. The Graceville college won a Best Value School award in April by University Research and Review.
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