Friday, February 23, 2018
Education

St. Petersburg College agrees to use reserves for two building projects

LARGO — St. Petersburg College leaders last week agreed to designate up to $18.4 million in reserve funds to help pay for two projects — the new Midtown Educational Center in St. Petersburg and a new library for the Clearwater campus.

SPC's budget staff recommended using reserves because of a decline in the state fund that pays for school construction projects.

The college doesn't anticipate receiving state Public Education Capital Outlay funding for any major construction projects in the near future, said Doug Duncan, the college's senior vice president of administrative/business services and information technology.

At last week's SPC Board of Trustee's meeting, Duncan presented scenarios for using the reserves, but the trustees did not commit to any specific funding scenario.

Trustee Ken Burke had questions about what would be the best strategy to fund the projects, which total $27 million.

And trustee Deveron Gibbons, an advocate for the Midtown campus, said he also wanted assurances that the college has a plan to fund the new Clearwater campus library. He's toured the current library, and said, "This building, if we're not careful, will fall down around us."

The 47-year-old library needs a new roof, new air-conditioning system and a slew of upgrades. SPC wants to build a new $12 million, 38,000-square-foot library. But when that will happen and how it will be funded is unclear. One scenario involved funding the construction with a 20-year bond, but college president Bill Law said he's not confident Gov. Rick Scott will authorize such bonds.

There's a good possibility the library will be built on land just west of the campus purchased from Faith United Church of Christ, said Susan Reiter, vice president of facilities planning and institutional services. But a definite location hasn't been selected and an architect hasn't been hired.

"In Midtown we have all of those things tied down," she said.

The 45,000-square-foot, three-story Midtown project will be built on land leased from the city of St. Petersburg at 22nd Street and 13th Avenue S. The college hopes to open it by fall of 2013.

Meanwhile, another factor could change the bottom line of the library project. College officials and the city of Clearwater have been talking about the possibility of a joint-use partnership, where the new library could be used by SPC students and the public.

Clearwater library director Barbara Pickell said the city is open to exploring a partnership because it wants to expand and upgrade its East Branch, which is less than a mile from the SPC campus. But she said they may face challenges coordinating funding and timelines.

And if they decide to partner, Pickell said, there will be other factors to consider. The college library caters to its students, she said, while the city serves the greater community, including children.

SPC has joint-use libraries on its Gibbs and Seminole campuses and those are "working really well," Reiter said.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155.

Comments

Pasco foundation battling childhood hunger one school at a time

ZEPHRYHILLS — On a Thursday morning in a small warehouse off Gall Boulevard, a well-oiled machine of goodwill is cranking. At the Thomas Promise Foundation, volunteers Carlos and Robin Clothier, pack boxes of macaroni and cheese, granola bars, apple ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Published: 02/22/18
Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored...
Published: 02/22/18
Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

With high school students from Parkland in the Capitol this week advocating for gun control, the bill that would have allowed superintendents and principals to designate trained employees who can carry concealed weapons at school didn’t get heard as ...
Published: 02/22/18
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

LITHIA — Students, faculty and staff recently scurried inside the Newsome High School gym for a morning assembly to hear a message about bullying from a man who kids once taunted.Newsome’s principal Carla Bruning invited actor Quinton Aaron, star of ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

RIVERVIEW — Spoto High School English Department Head Adam Sherman can’t help but wonder if a program he introduced to Spartan students could have changed the trajectory of Nickolas Cruz’s life before he gunned down and killed 17 people on Valentine’...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Published: 02/20/18