Proposed Project Lists
Alachua County’s school buildings are in sad shape. Old, outdated classrooms, inadequate science labs, leaking roofs, air conditioners that constantly break down, portables crowding out playgrounds, students eating lunch at 9:45 in the morning—the evidence is everywhere. The average school building is 40 years old, and it shows not just in how they look, but in how they support teaching and learning.
In the last ten years, decisions made at the state level have reduced facilities funding for local schools by $168 million. As a result, the district has been limited mainly to basic repairs and improvements in recent years. It also has not been able to keep up with what would normally be considered routine maintenance.
To address these and other facility-related issues, voters will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax for school renovations, repairs, construction and other projects during the November election. The half cent would last for twelve years and would include oversight by an independent citizens’ committee.
Should voters approve the Half-Cent for Schools, it will bring in an additional $22 million dollars for each of the next twelve years for school facilities. Combined with the 1½ mill property tax that is earmarked for capital improvements, those revenues would allow the district to address a significant majority of facilities needs at every single campus and bring all schools up to a much higher standard of comfort, safety, efficiency, and education.
This proposed project list is the result of more than a year’s worth of work that included gathering input from parents, teachers and staff and community members in collaboration with the Alachua County Council of PTAs (ACCPTA), a community-wide facilities survey conducted by the ACCPTA, and a thorough review by outside consultants of the needs of every building on every campus and the cost of meeting those needs. That input and information has been carefully reviewed and consolidated into this plan within the resources that would be available to the district should the Half-Cent for Schools be approved by voters.
It is important to note that this plan does not include every project that the district, schools and community would like to complete on each campus. However, it does represent a large majority of those projects. That includes the renovation and modernization of most classrooms, which can include new furniture, technology infrastructure, lighting, flooring, painting, etc.
In addition, the list is based on the best information available today. Over the 12-year term of this plan, needs at an individual school may change--due, for example, to a hurricane. The state must approve some of the projects, particularly the demolition of existing buildings. Cost estimates can also change, due to such factors as the cost of raw materials, labor costs, inflation, etc. The district has built contingency funds into the plan and has tried to be conservative in determining the projects that can be completed at each school to account for this.
The district has also built in costs for getting back onto a regular maintenance cycle with roofs, HVAC and other critical systems to prevent the current crisis from occurring in the future. Safety and security improvements at each school have also been factored into the plan.
However, implementing this plan depends on the approval of the Half-Cent for Schools. Should the initiative fail, the district will be limited to completing only the most basic repairs as our facilities continue to age, our learning spaces fall further out-of-date and more critical systems fail.
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that we have a safe, healthy and high-quality learning environment for all Alachua County Public School students.