Buildings for the future
With declining enrollment looming large, Pinellas school superintendent Clayton Wilcox is making plans to use the county's schools most effectively. He presented several money-saving options to School Board members a recent workshop. Among them:
• Using the old Dunedin Elementary School as the site for an enlarged Curtis Fundamental Elementary rather than spending an estimated $3- to $4-million to rebuild it.
• Converting the existing Curtis Fundamental in Clearwater to a "center of excellence" for high school students interested in pursuing career technical education.
• Completing an unfinished wing at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg to open up more fundamental seats for children in south Pinellas.
• Cutting back on plans for the new Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg that would reduce construction costs to the upper $60-million range.
• Re-evaluating design plans for the Jacobson Culinary Arts Center at Tarpon Springs High to keep the cost closer to the $3.5-million originally proposed.
Wilcox also announced that the district will shift some of the funds earmarked for replacement schools or new construction into a dedicated maintenance fund for upkeep on existing school buildings. Stay tuned.
- Donna Winchester, Pinellas County education reporter