No new schools seen in five-year plan

School board has lots of renovations slated district-wide

nalund@bradenton.comMarch 16, 2010 

BRADENTON — The Manatee County School Board began discussions Monday night on a $405.5 million five-year capital plan that includes continued renovations district-wide, but no new schools.

The plan is largely funded by sales and property taxes. Close to half the money — $197 million — goes toward debt service for repaying construction loans.

District officials anticipate about $37 million will be spent on renovation projects over the five-year period, including replacing air-conditioning systems and roofs, and repainting schools.

Jim Drake, assistant superintendent of Finance, said that during the 2010-2011 school year, he anticipates about $4.8 million will be spent repainting, replacing roofs and air systems.

“Those are things that will cost us money later if we don’t address them now,” said Drake, who presented the board with the five-year plan preview.

About $2.5 million has been set aside for renovations at Myakka City and Braden River elementaries, both expected to be finished by the end of the 2011 year.

“Those are the last big ones we’ve got until the 2013-14 year,” Drake said.

A few more future major renovation projects are slated at Bashaw, Orange Ridge-Bullock and Oneco elementaries.

“Most of them are coming up on 20-years-old, which is about time the systems start to require more maintenance there,” he said.

Some work has been done on those schools, Superintendent Tim McGonegal said. For example, Bashaw got a new roof. But more work, he said still needs to be done at those schools.

Board members Joe Kinnan and Harry Miller said they want to get children out of portables at schools where construction is taking place.

McGonegal said the district would have very few portables if it weren’t for the class-size amendment passed in 2002.

Major projects on the five-year plan that have carried through from the 2009-10 school year include $38 million for building a new MTI campus off State Road 70; $21 million to rebuild the Davis Building at Manatee High School; and $19.1 million to modernize the Matzke transportation and maintenance complex.

The district has also allocated about $21 million to build a bigger Palmetto Elementary on a school new site. Its anticipated completion date is in November or December, Drake said.

The new Davis building will likely be operational for the start of school this fall, and personnel should be working in the updated Matzke complex in October.

MTI is still in the planning stages and won’t be finished for at least three years, Drake said.

Also Monday, Drake said no new schools will be built during the next five years.

“Enrollment is trending up, but we have a significant number of capacities at each level that we can handle the growth at each school,” he said noting that the district has about 5,000-6,000 empty seats.

Schools with continuing growth include Mills and Gullett elementaries.

The most recent school to open was G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary, which opened last fall.

The five-year plan also includes $225,000 for band uniforms, $765,962 for musical instruments, and $3.4 million for buses.

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