Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Need for New Schools Looms | Officials Weigh Costs of Meeting Needs of Growing District

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Need for New Schools Looms | Officials Weigh Costs of Meeting Needs of Growing District

Article excerpt

SARASOTA COUNTY

SARASOTA COUNTY -- Planners estimate Sarasota County will need to spend between $327 million and $342 million over the next decade building seven new schools -- five of them elementary schools -- to keep up with projected growth.

Another two to three elementary schools, one more middle school and another high school could be needed to meet forecast population growth through 2040, much of it in south Sarasota County.

The question is how to pay for the new facilities. Sarasota County School Board members and representatives from a consulting firm are scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting today.

Planners from Tindale Oliver Planning, Design and Engineering, hired by the school district for a long-range planning study, developed the projections. The firm said the district will need to spend between $68 million and $80 million within the next five years to build two elementary schools for opening in 2021 at the earliest.

After that, planners say growth will cost the district between $327 and $342 million for constructing an additional three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school by 2027.

The push to build new schools comes as new neighborhood developments are emerging in the area, particularly east of Interstate 75 and in

south Sarasota County. Planned developments such as the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South in northeast Sarasota County, a Palmer Ranch expansion, several developments east of Nokomis and Venice, and the West Villages located in North Port, just south of Venice, could result in 13,037 more students attending Sarasota County schools by 2040. Officials expect that growth to peak between 2020 and 2030.

Most of those new students are expected to come from the West Villages development.

Tindale Oliver's strategic schedule to build new schools would see:

- One high school and one middle school built by 2027, both of which would be east of I-75 between Sarasota and Venice. …

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