Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pasco school district progresses on Land O’Lakes High construction, prepares for next projects

The Pasco County school district's two-year, $28.5 million renovation of Land O'Lakes High School has entered its third phase, and is on target for completion in summer 2019.

The new construction and redesign has created classroom space for an added 450 students, while also providing a more modern and airy feel for the nearly windowless buildings.

It features a new secure entry, more welcoming front offices, and upgrades to the cafeteria, commons and media center, among other changes, some of which remain under way. The effort also includes extra hallways to help students move more easily throughout.

The district spaced out the work after families protested plans to close the high school for the construction. Principal Ric Mellin said the effort has taken place seamlessly, and not disrupted education in any meaningful way.

Related coverage: Land O'Lakes High students will remain on campus during renovations 

"I think we're spending our money wisely," said Tom Skiratko, vice chairman of the Penny for Pasco Oversight Committee, which toured the campus Tuesday.

The committee visited the school after its regular quarterly meeting to discuss the district's use of the local-option sales tax, which voters renewed in 2012.

In that meeting, they learned that the tax revenue is on track to exceed its 10-year projection by just over $40 million. Through July, the collections totaled $95 million, about 18 percent above estimates for this point.

"We could renovate another high school," Skiratko said after hearing that information.

The next Penny-funded project already on the district list is the remodeling of Zephyrhills High, which has a similar design to Land O'Lakes.

Construction director Mike Gude said workers have begun "moving dirt" on that project, with the first phase being to erect a new classroom building. Once that facility is complete, he said, students will move into it and major renovations to the existing classrooms will take place.

The work is set to begin in earnest in summer 2019, and be done by the time classes start in fall 2021, Gude said.

It follows several other overhauls of 1970s-era schools designed by architect Eoghan Kelley, including Anclote Elementary and Bayonet Point Middle. When explaining the Penny for Pasco needs during the 2012 campaign, officials said the Kelley schools were poorly designed for current educational models, while also being difficult to maintain.

Related coverage: Penny for Pasco would fix up outdated Kelley schools 

The district also is set to embark on a non-Penny project that has garnered significant attention in recent years. A ground breaking is planned for November on new middle school buildings at Cypress Creek Middle-High in Wesley Chapel.

That project, with a fall 2020 target opening, is expected to set off another round of student attendance zone changes. Such revisions sparked furor in the area when Cypress Creek opened, and could do so again as it adds hundreds more seats aimed at easing crowding at other nearby schools.

Rezoning also is expected after the district builds Starkey K-8 School in Trinity. Its completion is set for fall 2021.

Planning director Chris Williams told the committee the district is keeping a close eye on enrollment trends and new home construction, to limit the impact of the new schools on current students as much as possible.

Comments
Watchdog organization questions Florida’s charter school closure rate

Watchdog organization questions Florida’s charter school closure rate

A national group that investigates what it deems corruption that undermines democracy is calling attention to the high rate of charter school closures in Florida.The Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy has issued data showing tha...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida education news: School safety, turnarounds, performance funding and more

Florida education news: School safety, turnarounds, performance funding and more

SCHOOL SAFETY: As school districts across Florida meet new state requirements for active shooter drills, some parents have raised concerns about the frequency and intensity of the events. The Pinellas County school district has issued materials ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Another Moton Elementary principal leaves, less than a year after taking over struggling school

Another Moton Elementary principal leaves, less than a year after taking over struggling school

BROOKSVILLE — Brent Gaustad, the Moton Elementary School principal who was hired in January to turn around a school on the brink of state intervention, will retire next week, the Hernando County School District announced Monday.Gausta...
Published: 10/22/18
A Pinellas teaching aide gave a special needs student a wedgie. Now she could lose her job.

A Pinellas teaching aide gave a special needs student a wedgie. Now she could lose her job.

A Pinellas County school employee could be out of a job Tuesday after giving a special needs student at Mount Vernon Elementary School a wedgie in front of his classmates, then refusing to work.According to the school district, Dominiq...
Published: 10/22/18
How should you talk to your child about active shooter drills? Pinellas’ online “tool kit” could help

How should you talk to your child about active shooter drills? Pinellas’ online “tool kit” could help

In an attempt to answer some of the ongoing questions surrounding active shooter drills in Pinellas County schools, educators have rolled out a new set of online resources for parents.Along with videos and copies of staff and...
Published: 10/22/18
Florida education department announces school recognition awards

Florida education department announces school recognition awards

The clock is ticking for hundreds of Florida schools to decide how to spend an extra $100 per student they'll receive for their 2017-18 student testing results.Districts learned late Friday which schools qualified for the state's program recognizing ...
Published: 10/22/18
Florida education news: State funding, school rules, threat monitoring and more

Florida education news: State funding, school rules, threat monitoring and more

STATE FUNDING: Rather than adding more money into public education, Republican candidate for Florida governor Ron DeSantis suggests the state and districts instead should root out waste and inefficiency in their budgets. Observers say the s...
Published: 10/22/18
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Oct. 14, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Oct. 14, 2018

Frustrated with a string of legislative losses, the Florida Education Association — the state’s largest teacher union — selected new leadership for the coming three years. New president Fed Ingram promised to “start winning ag...
Published: 10/20/18
Student who mangled fingers with school table saw sues Pinellas School Board

Student who mangled fingers with school table saw sues Pinellas School Board

A Northeast High School student who mangled his fingers using a table saw in class in 2016 is suing the Pinellas County School Board for negligence, asking for at least $15,000 in damages.According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 12, Brandon Jacob ...
Published: 10/19/18
State to designate Florida ‘Schools of Excellence’ for flexibility on some rules

State to designate Florida ‘Schools of Excellence’ for flexibility on some rules

Eighty-eight Florida schools will join 630 others in gaining relief from some state education laws as "Schools of Excellence."The recognition, developed by lawmakers in 2017 as part of HB 7069, grants principals greater autonomy in daily operations, ...
Published: 10/19/18