Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County school district considers fate of Kelley-designed schools

LAND O'LAKES — After four decades, Pasco County's nine Kelley-designed schools are showing their age.

Built to cope with rapid growth, the 1970s-era bunker-like schools have had problems with air conditioning, leaky roofs and faulty electrical circuits. Their cafeterias, libraries and bathrooms are too small for their populations. Some of their classrooms lack walls.

"They were modern for their day," said John Petrashek, district new construction director. "Unfortunately, they were also poorly designed."

A couple of years ago, Pasco officials listed all nine schools as candidates for demolition and replacement. The district had not kept up with routine maintenance, as it spent most of its capital resources on new schools. The older buildings paid the price.

With the deficiencies becoming more pronounced, the time is coming near to act. So superintendent Heather Fiorentino recently turned to the School Board for some direction.

Should they raze and rebuild? Or should they renovate?

Either way, the district needs to begin setting aside money now, Fiorentino told the board.

"It is important we start to save, because it's not an easy task to do," she said.

Going by dollar amounts alone, the decision might appear simple.

The Clearwater architectural firm of Williamson Dacar has estimated it would cost $3.3 million for basic renovations to an elementary school, $8.2 million for a middle school and $9.4 million for a high school. Improvements, including expansions, would run about $6.9 million per elementary, $14.4 million per middle school and $19.1 million per high schools.

Replacements, by contrast, would reach about $18 million for an elementary school, $40 million for a middle school and $50 million for a high school.

Deciding based strictly on these figures might not best serve the district, architect Ted Williamson cautioned.

The Kelley schools don't meet code for fire prevention or handicap accessibility, among other things, he noted. Once any type of construction begins, the district must bring the entire building up to code.

Needs also include plumbing, power and data connections and science equipment.

"If you're going to do this, you want to get 20 to 25 years out of the school," Williamson said. "If you're going to put money in here, it's got to be worthwhile."

Each of the schools is structurally sound, he continued. But renovation might not work in every case.

While the elementary schools are compact and could benefit from remodeling, the high schools face a different scenario, Petrashek said.

The high schools have a more spread-out design, with little space to expand cafeterias and media centers. A more sprawling campus also might detract from a school's overall safety, he said. So the board might want to raze and replace at least some of the existing structures, he suggested.

"For our high schools, we're really going to have to discuss this," Petrashek told the School Board.

Board members said they understood the predicament. They've heard about the lack of computer wiring on some of the campuses, for instance, and about the makeshift walls of filing cabinets and bookshelves that teachers use to separate their classrooms at some of the elementary schools.

The open classroom model was popular in the 1970s as the district let students move among teachers depending on their academic skills. As Florida has established more grade-specific curriculum standards, Pasco schools have strayed from that open system.

Fiorentino admitted to sometimes getting lost inside Kelley schools, to the point where she usually asks for an escort.

Senior maintenance crew chief Mark Fox jokingly offered this solution for finding a way out of a Kelly school: Find a custodian, announce it's about to rain and tell the custodian his car windows are open. Then just follow the custodian out.

Board members did not set any immediate priorities at their first workshop, or at a second session a couple of weeks later. Time is not critical, they have little free money to begin any projects.

The district is focused on completing renovations at Pasco Middle and Pasco High, with replacement of Schrader and Richey elementary schools next on the agenda.

Razing the rest of Sanders Elementary also is on tap for the summer, with new construction as yet unscheduled.

No new schools are planned until at least 2015.

Still, Petrashek said, setting a course of action will help ensure the schools get what they need.

"It is our job to start looking three to six years out, so we can start planning and saving," he said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

>>At a glance

The Kelley-designed schools

As enrollment surged in 1970-71 from 13,530 to 17,000 students, the Pasco County school district adopted a school design by Eoghan Kelley that also was in use in several other Florida districts. Many have since abandoned or redesigned those schools. Pasco officials are looking into their options.

The schools are:

Hudson, Land O'Lakes and Zephyrhills high schools

Bayonet Point Middle School

Anclote, Cypress, Northwest, Quail Hollow and Shady Hills elementary schools

Pasco County school district considers fate of Kelley-designed schools 06/24/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011 8:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.