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Springstead renovations accelerated

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Chalk one up to persistence.

After building momentum for weeks in their fight to get Springstead High School renovated before 500 new students fill its halls this fall, parents, students and teachers got the vote they had been looking for Tuesday night.

The School Board voted unanimously to spend $1.509-million immediately on a wide range of improvements at the school on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill.

"I'm just really thrilled," said Marybeth Gajdusek, whose son will attend Springstead next year. "I'm not usually involved in things like this, but the fact that they let the school get so run-down and did nothing about it really made me mad. I'm glad we got what we needed."

Some of the major projects at the 25-year-old campus will include:

Adding eight portable classrooms for freshmen and renovating the stadium toilets for the students to use.

Soundproofing much of the campus.

Renovating several science labs.

Rebuilding the school's running track.

Gajdusek and about 50 other parents, teachers and students packed the School Board's conference room as they did at the Spring Hill Community Center last week for a forum on Springstead's needs.

Their pressure apparently worked.

In February, the district administration proposed spending $4-million on construction at Hernando High School while allocating $300,000 for Springstead.

Board members Stephen Galaydick and Jim Malcolm said they wanted more shifted to Springstead because the school's freshmen will be returned to the main campus from a remote campus on Deltona Boulevard in the fall to make way for a fourth middle school.

That set off a public outcry, which pushed the Springstead spending recommendation up to $1.509-million over the next two years. But that wasn't enough either.

After last week's forum, board Chairman John Druzbick said he told staff members that they needed to find a way to pay for all of the work in this year's budget.

"I kept hearing over and over: "We've heard this before,' " said Druzbick. "People were tired of hearing promises. They wanted to see the commitment from the board now, and I think we should give it to them."

Going against the recommendation of Superintendent John Sanders, the board decided to borrow $1.12-million from funds set aside to build new elementary schools to help pay for the improvements immediately. Sanders said the money will be paid back in full from next year's budget.

At Tuesday's meeting, Galaydick and Malcolm remained the most ardent supporters of Springstead. Both men called for going beyond the $1.509-million in case the cost of improvements runs over estimates.

But the rest of the board decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

"I'm not happy about borrowing . . . but the need is vital," said board member Sandra Nicholson. "I just fear that other vital projects will be neglected."

Member Jerry Milby suggested finding ways to pay for improvements at Central and Hernando high schools after the new budget year begins July 1.

The district staff hopes to build a $3.7-million two-story building at Hernando High next year. It has backed off on an earlier proposal to spend $225,000 renovating three existing buildings on the Brooksville campus.

"My concern is all of the schools in this district," Milby said. "I think we have done what we need to do at Springstead. I want to see the others get what they need, too."