Make us your home page
Instagram

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 solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

>>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

Loading...
  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101