1. News
  2. /
  3. Education

Hernando schools project $14 million in new classrooms by 2024

The district first would add classrooms at three existing schools, but could need four new schools by 2039.
Workers begin construction in 2010 on what would become Winding Waters K-8. That was the last new public school built in Hernando County, which faces capacity strains as officials ask for impact fee increases to keep up with growth. [HERNANDO TODAY PHOTO BY HAYLEY M | Hernando Today]
Published Oct. 22
Updated Oct. 22

BROOKSVILLE — The specter of growth has loomed over the Hernando County School Board for months. The need for more space has underpinned pleas for higher impact fees, was invoked during discussions about a new technical school and led to questions about when and where new classrooms will rise.

On Tuesday, the Board saw an early timeline that could answer some of those questions.

The draft of the district’s annual five-year work plan includes a pair of $6.3 million, 16-classroom expansions at J.D. Floyd and Westside elementary schools, followed by a $1.6 million, 3-classroom addition to Brooksville Elementary School. If the timeline holds, those will go up between 2022 and 2024 and add a total of 760 seats.

The expansion at Brooksville Elementary has been in the plan for years, said planning manager Jim Lipsey. The other expansions are due to more recent growth. The district has started work with an architectural firm, Lipsey said, though he emphasized that the details could still change.

"Knowing that’s the direction we intend to proceed, I wanted to get it on the five-year plan,” he said.

RELATED: When will Hernando County need its next new school? Not for a while, administrators hope.

Elementary schools are the most crowded and are expected to be hardest hit by the stream of new development approved of late by the Hernando Board of County Commissioners. An outside consulting firm last year projected the district would need two new elementary schools by 2024 and two more by 2034, but superintendent John Stratton has said he doesn’t expect the district to build a new school in the next five years.

The draft timeline prioritizes expanding existing schools. But an attached schedule for major projects beyond the five-year mark shows the district could build several schools before long.

That schedule, which Lipsey said is tentative, calls for one new elementary school by 2029 near McKethan Road on the county’s east side for $22 million. The 10 years after that call for two more elementary schools, on the north and west sides of the county, at the same cost, as well as a $68 million high school on the east side.

Other projects in the five-to-10 year range would include a $7.5 million, 8-classroom addition to Springstead High School and an $8.5 million cafeteria at Eastside Elementary School that will open space for six classrooms. The schedule also includes a $6.8 million administration building in conjunction with a $7.5 million renovation to the current district offices, turning them into space for up to 18 new classrooms for Brooksville Elementary.

RELATED: Hernando schools say they need higher impact fees. County officials aren’t so sure.

Board member Jimmy Lodato called for Lipsey to scrap the longer-range projections from the plan. He said they could unsettle county commissioners needed to approve higher impact fees for the school district.

“If you bring them a number like this, it’s going to scare them all to death,” he said.

Impact fees are charged for every newly built home and meant to help make growth pay for itself. Hernando County’s school impact fees, at $2,133 for a single-family home, are a third of what a consulting group recommended earlier this year. Higher impact fees have emerged as the School Board’s foremost option to pay for new classrooms, particularly the school additions, Lipsey said.

Only the County Commission can change impact fees. When School Board members appealed for an increase earlier this month, commissioner reactions ranged from skeptical to appalled. The commission withheld a decision until after a joint meeting with the School Board, which has yet to be scheduled.

On Tuesday, the board directed Stratton to ask the Commission to vote on the impact fees at an upcoming meeting.

“I feel that the time is right now to move this thing forward while the iron is hot," Lodato said. "What do we have to lose? They say no, and we come back again. They say yes, and we’re ahead of the game.”


  1. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  3. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  4. The Florida Department of Education has approved another alternate assessment for third graders to demonstrate they read at or above grade level.
    The state also reminds schools to let those who struggle that scholarships for help are available.
  5. Trump supporters yell and show the middle finger at hecklers during Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech in the University Auditorium at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019. Guilfoyle spoke about her childhood as a first-generation American, her experiences as a lawyer and her support for the Trump family.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    Student senator Ben Lima explains why he’s pursuing the charges against Michael Murphy.
  6. A fledgling movement of parents and community members in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are speaking out about sex education in public schools. They say the curriculums are not explicit enough. And they worry that kids don’t have enough information — or that they get it too late — to protect themselves against the risks of sexual intimacy. [Shutterstock] SHUTTERSTOCK
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  8. Discussing sex education on Nov. 15 in Tampa are Christian conservative Terry Kemple, university health services coordinator Linsey Grove, Planned Parenthood outreach educator Paola Ferst and Hillsborough schools physical education and health supervisor Ashlee Cappucci. Not shown: County PTA Council President Damaris Allen. MARLENE SOKOL
    Lessons seek to strengthen students’ communication skills so they can make informed decisions.
  9. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Officials from both sides say a deal could emerge as early as next week.
  10. A roundup of stories from around the state.