LAND O'LAKES — Last spring, state Sen. Mike Fasano secured what looked to be $10 million for road improvement projects outside Pasco County schools.
Thrilled school district planners quickly put together a list of needed work that would use up all the cash. The group put the items into priority order, just in case it didn't get all the money in what the state called a school infrastructure pilot project.
Four other school districts and one county also applied and qualified for some of the funds, leaving Pasco with $4.2 million — still a good share of the appropriation, but not close to the full amount.
"What we will do is go through the list until we eat up the $4.2 million," said Ray Gadd, assistant superintendent for support services.
Topping the list are improvements into the county's new high school at Chicago Avenue and State Road 52 in Hudson. That work includes building an extension of Cricket Street east of Little Road, leading directly into the school site; as well as new turning lanes and a traffic signal at Cricket and Little Road.
The total cost of that effort is estimated at $1.19 million.
"We are optimistic this might be one of the best sites we have for moving high school students on and off campus," Gadd said.
Next up are turn lanes, traffic signals and road resurfacing leading to the new Anclote High in Holiday for about $872,000.
The third priority is to widen Hicks Road from State Road 52 to north of Hudson Avenue, and to add a sidewalk on Carl Street from Hicks to Litewood Street. These would serve a new elementary school that has not been slated for construction. The cost of this project is about $1.64 million.
That would leave about $500,000, enough to cover a $290,000 traffic signal on Sunlake Boulevard outside Rushe Middle and Sunlake High (fourth on the list), and a $50,000 paving project outside Gulf Trace Elementary (ninth on the list).
All the other projects on the list cost significantly more than the remainder, although Gadd was hopeful they might be able to squeeze more out of the fund as prices continue to drop.
"If we had a little bit of money left over, we might readjust our priorities to accomplish something with those funds," Gadd said. "We wouldn't give it back."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.