BROOKSVILLE — Gopher tortoises have been removed, permits have been issued and $2.3-million has been spent, all in preparation for Hernando County's newest high school.
The school, so far known only as EEE, will be built on 70.44 acres at U.S. 19 between Centralia Road and Hexam Road and is estimated to cost at least $59-million. It is projected to open in August 2010 and house 1,685 students.
Tuesday, the Hernando County School Board reviewed details of the project in a workshop. Final approval of high school EEE is scheduled for the Oct. 7 board meeting.
The board considered options for a possible third building at the high school, but it ultimately decided to stick with the plan it had. "The additional building could be constructed now in anticipation of future student growth," facilities director Roland Bavota said.
"If you wait, and in time you decided to do the shells, it costs more," he added. "You don't know where costs or construction will be at that time."
Other options include constructing a basic two-story shell and leaving it empty, outfitting it but not for student use or completing only its ground floor for use.
"The additional building adds as much as $12,454,753 to the original cost," Bavota said. His recommendation was for the board to approve construction of just the initial two, two-story buildings, and board members agreed with that assessment.
Given the state of the economy, the public would struggle to understand the need to build additional structures if they are not currently needed, said board chairwoman Sandra Nicholson.
Once the project is approved, things will move quickly.
"We'll have over 500 guys working. There will be a tremendous amount of beehive work," said Bavota.
Discussion of a planned K-8 school on the north side of the campus is also scheduled for the Oct. 7 meeting. That school is projected to house approximately 1,400 students and to cost roughly $28-million.
Putting the schools on the same campus provides additional savings for both labor contracts and purchasing.
"We can buy in bigger quantities," Bavota said. "It's economy of scale."