New and renovated schools planned

The Pasco County School Board received an overview last week on projects planned to construct, renovate, expand and repair schools across the district.

They also heard a wrap-up on projects in progress or finished this year.

The presentation, by Chris Williams, director of planning services and Olga Swinson, chief finance officer, came as the district prepares to vote on a final capital construction budget in September.

Numerous projects are underway or planned in communities across central and east Pasco County.

Major milestones this past year have included:

  • Beginning the design of the Cypress Creek Middle School
  • Finishing the site development for Starkey K-8, as well as designing that faciilty
  • Replacing the roof at Denham Oaks.
  • Continuing work on massive renovations at Land O’ Lakes High School and Woodland Elementary, and adding capacity to both locations
  • Purchasing 30 cng buses and five diesel buses, and 35 radios
  • Purchasing more than 8,000 computer and laptops, and more than 2,400 iPads

Major projects planned for 2018-2019:

  • Beginning a major overhaul at Zephyrhills High School, which includes adding capacity
  • Continuing the Land O’ Lakes High and Woodland Elementary projects
  • Beginning construction of Cypress Creek Middle School
  • Continuing design of Starkey K-8
  • Working with the Pasco County library system on the Starkey Library/Theater design
  • Purchasing 40 diesel buses, 40 radios and several fleet trucks and service vehicles
  • Purchasing more than 7,000 computers and laptops and about 1,290 iPads.

As the district continues to build, it also continues to grow, Williams said.

Here’s a look at the renovation project that is giving a new look to Woodland Elementary School, and expanding its capacity. (File)

The big question is which areas will grow at the fastest pace, requiring new schools first, the planning director said.

He gave board members an overview of the current situation.

Odessa Elementary is projected to be at 114 percent, Williams said, adding that he expects relief for that school to come when Starkey K-8 opens, which is scheduled for 2021.

“I’m also concerned about Connerton (Elementary). They’re projected to be at 944 students this coming year, or 124 percent of capacity,” he said.

The district has opened up some additional seats at Sanders Memorial Elementary STEAM Magnet School, giving applications from Connerton students a higher priority, Williams said, so hopes that will help reduce Connerton’s enrollment.

School board member Colleen Beaudoin also suggested the district do more to advertise Pine View Elementary School’s candidacy program for the IB Primary Years Programme.

Some students might choose to attend Pine View, if the families knew about that program, she said.

“Pine View and Connerton are so close. Maybe some families might want to get into that (IB) pipeline,” Beaudoin said.

In Wesley Chapel, there are some schools near the new Union Park Charter Academy that are over capacity, but Williams expects the charter school to have significant impact on enrollment at nearby schools.

“Union Park is up to 483 students,” Williams noted.

In addition to affecting elementary enrollments, it also will affect middle schools because the charter school is for kindergarten through eighth grade students.

Meanwhile, in Zephryhills, Woodland Elementary School’s enrollment is well over capacity, but the district is adding capacity at the school as part of the current renovation, Williams added.

The district expects to increase its middle school capacity with the opening of Cypress Creek Middle in 2020 and with the opening Starkey K-8 in 2021.

When Cypress Creek Middle opens, it will help to relieve crowding at Wiregrass Ranch, which is projected to be at 139 percent of its capacity.

Here’s what the common area will look like when the Land O’ Lakes High School project is finished. (File)

When the middle school opens, Cypress Creek High’s capacity will increase substantially.

The district also is hoping to open an East Side Technical High School in 2022, which will affect enrollments at high schools on the east side of the county, Williams said.

Williams said Central Pasco’s growth does pose challenges.

“Sunlake High School is of concern because it still continues to grow,” he said.

The district has a future high school in the Bexley area, as well as the Starkey area, Williams said.

“We have to continue to evaluate when it makes sense to try to add additional capacity,” he added.

The district’s construction needs and maintenance needs continue to grow, but it doesn’t have the revenues to match the needs, Swinson said, forcing the district to put off projects that are needed because it doesn’t have the money.

Projected revenues for capital purposes remain lower than they were in 2007-2008, she said.

Major projects for 2018-2019:

  • Beginning renovation at Zephyrhills High School: Includes massive overhaul, as well as adding capacity.
  • Continuing major renovations at Land O’ Lakes High and Woodland Elementary
  • Starting construction on Cypress Creek Middle School
  • Continuing Starkey K-8 design
  • Working with the Pasco County library system on the Starkey Library/Theater design
  • Purchasing 40 diesel buses, 40 radios and several fleet trucks and service vehicles
  • Purchasing more than 7,000 computers and laptops, and about 1,290 iPads.

Comments

  1. Rebecca Russell says:

    Pasco County needs to pass an additional Sales Tax for school construction ASAP. It is the only way the District will have the funds to build the schools that are badly needed to relieve all of the overcrowding. Construction and new home growth has surpassed the District’s ability to handle the growth of the student population. Pasco County SHOULD HAVE required the developers of all these new neighborhoods to partially fund and allocate resources for the school construction needed to mitigate the residential growth, before the neighborhoods were built.

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