It may be a while, but when Sanders Memorial Elementary School reopens in Land O’ Lakes, it will become Pasco County Schools’ first magnet school.
Sanders will emphasize science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, said Dave Scanga, executive director of the Central Region of Pasco County Schools.
The school district funded the redesign of Sanders in 2008, but the project was put on hold because the housing market crashed. Now the district is looking to open Sanders in the 2015-16 school year. But first construction plans for the school must be updated to comply with changes in the Florida building code as well as educational needs of the magnet program.
The enrollment would be drawn largely from the Land O’ Lakes area to relieve overcrowding at Connerton Elementary School, Scanga said. Remaining seats would be open for students living outside the school’s normal boundaries.
When completed, Sanders — located at 5126 School Road — will be almost entirely new. Just three of the former school’s buildings remain on site. The rest were demolished.
Besides being the district’s first magnet, Sanders also will benefit from an agreement between the school board and Pasco County. The arrangement aims at providing more recreational opportunities for school children and the community at large, while also broadening learning opportunities and providing a venue to accommodate community gatherings.
The county expects to make about $1.5 million in improvements in 2014 at the Land O’ Lakes Community Park, located at 5401 U.S. 41.
The school board set the redesign of Sanders into motion on Dec. 3 by approving the expenditure of $684,350 for architectural services from Williamson Dacar Architects for the design, permitting and contract administration services. The district also has put out a request for qualifications for the Sanders project.
In keeping with the school’s educational mission, the updated plans will include some special design features.
For instance, the classrooms will have wireless technology, and space will be planned to give students room to collaborate. There also will be storage space for student projects and sinks in classrooms, to accommodate experiments.
Plans also will include several site design elements, which may not be built right away, but added later. Those include:
• An environmental center and boardwalk through the wetlands. Designs for the environmental center will include a covered work area with power, water and wireless connections.
• Photovoltaic demonstration panels to be used as a teaching tool for students.
• A solar hot water heater system to be used as a teaching tool for students.
• Provisions for a wind turbine.
• Areas for student gardens around the classroom buildings.
Alison Crumbley, chairwoman for the Pasco County School Board, said she supports giving parents another school choice. At the same time, she wants to see more educational opportunities in these academic areas for children in schools throughout the district.
There are hundreds of thousands of jobs that are not being filled in the country because of a shortage of skilled workers, Crumbley said. She wants district schools to do more to help its students acquire skills they will need to pursue those kinds of careers.