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School Closures A Windfall For Property Developers

Bulgaria will close a record number of schools this year, allowing developers to remodel the buildings into hotels, retirement homes, spa centers or small factories, a Dnevnik investigation has found out.Some 300 schools have been shuttered so far in 2008 at the request of town mayors more, than double the amount closed down in 2007.The fate of the former school buildings, located mainly in rural areas, is decided by the respective municipal council.Information posted on the websites of regional authorities indicate that the school buildings sell at prices ranging from 5000 to 90 000 leva, depending on their location and state of repair.Town mayors and school principals said the main reason for the record number of closures is the new central budget funding scheme, adopted in early 2008, which ties the amount of government aid to the number of enrolled students. The new funding rule has led to the bankruptcy of the smallest schools in locations where the local government has no money to co-finance their operation.