Despite a rising student population, a consultant is expected to tell the School Board that no new schools are needed in Citrus County over the next five years.
Superintendent Pete Kelly said last week that no new schools will be recommended in the school plant survey being completed by Innovative Management Counselors because district officials have changed their approach about building new schools.
"We've decided to take a little different direction," Kelly said.
District officials want to expand existing elementary and high schools and to use state and local school-building funds to improve all of the schools in the district.
That stance runs contrary to what the district's long-range planning committee and previous superintendents have said in recent years.
The School Board has heard reports that the district needs to build a new elementary school soon to keep up with growth and a new high school just after the turn of the century.
But Kelly said the costs involved with those projects led officials to rethink their options.
A new elementary school would cost the district about $12-million, and a new high school as much as $28-million. If the $2-million a year it takes to keep the existing schools maintained were added to that total, the roughly $50-million in building funds available through the year 2002 would be used.
"We'd have enough to maintain our schools and build two schools and then we'd be out of chips," Kelly said last week.
The survey recommends $39.6-million worth of improvements over the next five years. By focusing on improving existing schools, "we'll have 18 good schools and not just two new ones," he said.
"But that will mean that our elementary schools will have to get slightly larger and the high schools will have to get slightly larger."
Even with growth in the student population, Kelly said, "we can meet the needs in elementary and meet the needs in the high schools and more than meet the needs in the middle schools," he said. "It's really just a matter of looking at it all differently."
The consultants' plant survey is a five-year blueprint for the district's construction needs.
Student numbers dictate the consultants' recommendations to the district.
"The recommendation (to build) student stations does not normally occur unless the numbers show there is a need, and the numbers don't show that need," said general services director Alan Burcaw.
The draft survey projects that the student population will grow to an estimated 15,553 in the next five years, but the overall capacity of the schools recommended is 16,678.
The School Board is considering setting a workshop for April 8 to discuss the recommendations.
The actual survey is still under development, but draft survey documents recommend only one new facility in the district for the next five years: a centralized transportation complex with a price tag of $2.5-million. That complex would free the current transportation area beside Citrus High School for parking.
The draft recommends not only improvements, renovations and construction at each school and district facility, but also what student capacity at each should be.
For example, the survey recommends a capacity of 1,721 students at Citrus High School during the next five years. While that is lower than the current capacity, far fewer students attend the school. An estimated 1,400 students will attend Citrus High in the coming year, according to tentative budget documents.
The survey also recommends shifting students from schools nearing capacity to those that have room for more students.
It also suggests school improvements such as improving roofing, replacing air-handling equipment and installing security systems in computer labs.
The most expensive projects listed include $4.7-million in new construction and renovation at Crystal River Middle School, including a new kitchen and dining area and new classrooms; $3.2-million for Citrus High School, including an auditorium; and more than $3-million of improvements to Crest School, including a media center and gymnasium.
When the final recommendations come to the board, approval is just the first step in a long process before school improvements are made.
The board also will soon consider its budget for the coming year, and many additional issues involving prioritizing projects, school planning and construction also will require board review and approval before any of the recommended work can be done.
Plant surveys also make recommendations of work that may never be done. For example, the draft recommends that several of the smaller schools in the district expand their size by several acres. Those recommendations are made in case expansions are possible.
While a project listed does not have to be done, the school district cannot use state construction money to work on a project not listed in a plant survey.
Draft school plant survey recommendations
Here are some of the school construction and renovation recommendations listed in the draft school plant survey:
Build covered play area and canopy over student drop off area
Build cafeteria and kitchen, expand media center and build storage building
Remodel rooms, convert existing cafeteria into various spaces including conference rooms and a clinic
Provide more parking places and improve student pick up area
Build three resource rooms, multipurpose room, restrooms, storage, conference rooms and a teachers lounge
Remodel and renovate other rooms
Build media center, various exceptional-student facilities, storage and office space
Expand site by two acres
Remodel various rooms and replace windows in one building
Build four primary classrooms
Remodel various spaces
Construct new two-story building, finish second story as administrative space and resource room
Expand site by two acres and locate additional parking on that new site
Correct site drainage problems
Remodel various areas
Upgrade electrical and plumbing systems
Add covered play area and parking spaces
Remodel various areas
Build storage building
Construct covered walkway
Remodel various rooms to different uses
Expand media center and build storage buildings
Upgrade plumbing and remodel various rooms
Add parking and covered areas for student pick up in front of the building
Build media center
Construct covered walkways and overhang
Remodel various rooms and add folding walls in cafeteria
Build large group activity area near physical education
Build covered walkway
Remodel various rooms
Build dining area and kitchen, six classrooms, labs and resource rooms
Renovate and remodel various areas
Acquire the 3.6 acres currently used by transportation and maintenance
Build covered physical education play area
Improve paved areas, widen sidewalks and build covered walkways
Air condition and renovate the gymnasium and renovate various areas
Storage buildings, skills labs and a television production and storage area
Air condition several rooms and the gymnasium
Fill in pit area and develop for dining and level media center floor
Various remodeling jobs
Build auditorium, expand kitchen and covered patio outside cafeteria
Develop area vacated by district transportation services for student parking
Construct sidewalks at stadium
Redesign bus ramp area including covered walkway in conjunction with Inverness Primary School
Build new multipurpose room, storage building and rest rooms
Renovate locker room areas and convert various rooms
Provide more staff parking, complete covered walkways and replace concrete area between gymnasium and stadium
Build work evaluation lab, textbook storage, lobby at the southwest end of gymnasium and a roof over concrete agriculture pad
Construct additional paved outdoor courts and parking for 50 vehicles
Convert various rooms