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Proposed Sarasota High Renovation Is Over Budget

Option 5 will cost $30.5 million and other details need to be figured out including if School Avenue should be permanently closed.

A proposed plan to renovate 's 70-acre campus is something the community said it wants, but it's going to be at least $4 million over budget.

Scott Lempe, chief operating officer of , presented Tuesday the proposed site planned signed by

Those upgrades for Option 5 will cost $30.5 million, Lempe said, which is $4 million more than the $26.5 million budget the Board of Education provided.

"In fairness to Option 5, none of those options could we do for $26.5 million," Lempe said.

Also, a solid proposal with a better estimated price could not be figured until late summer, he said.

The renovation is to improve security and to update old instructional space while "respecting the architecture of Paul Rudolph’s 1958-60 classroom addition," according to the school system.

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Still, financially, all those goals can be doable for $30.5 million, Lempe said. The capital budget could be configured where 7.5 percent of sales tax and ad valorum would be held back to create a reserve for the project, he said.

"It still leaves $15 million available to do things like Bay Haven School," he said.

Option 5, Lempe said, includes: 

• renovating Building 4 and not enclosing the breezeways with glass, but still providing some fencing or barrier for security near the building

• Using Building 4 for instruction and administration

• Remove the use of Building 42, which is behind the original high school building being touted for use of the Sarasota Museum of Modern Art, and work on an agreement to give the building to Ringling College of Art and Design for storage space and artist studios.

• A new gym south of Ihrig Field

• A new media center

• A courtyard outside the cafeteria

The new plan would mean the school system wouldn't have to upkeep about 60,000 square feet and is designed for students to move around campus easier. 

However, the plan does not include tennis courts. School officials will look at seeing if tennis courts could be placed on other Sarasota County Schools property in the neighborhood, and Board Member Carol Todd said it would be worth talking to the City of Sarasota about sharing community tennis courts as well. 

Also, should School Avenue be permanently closed to traffic?

That conversation will take place again starting with the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association. Lempe is trying to make it onto the agenda for the association's June 28 meeting.

Traffic going through the school and neighborhood or being diverted elsewhere in the neighborhood is a concern if left open. Now, School Avenue is gated closed during the school day. 

"I am very concern with School Avenue," board member Jane Goodwin said. "That has been on my radar for a while having worked around the campus."

"…I don't know if the road would be permanently closed or a shadow of what it is now," she added. 

Board member Shirley Brown quipped that Lempe "can take the plan over and turn School Avenue into tennis courts."

A timeline for implementation and construction along with an updated cost estimate  will be brought back to the board in August or September.

Steve June 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Surprise, surprise --- the Government always underestimates Budgets, and then spends way more that projected. The Government can't run any Project well.
Candy Spaulding June 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I was on the board many years ago when they added to Sarasota High School, took down the middle school and extended the high school to across School Ave. At the time the neighborhood (we were asked to be involved, they wanted to know what we thought) did not want School Ave. closed but they closed it anyway during school hours. I am very much against closing School Ave. I do not feel this is necessary and it would be a hardship on the Alta Vista Neighborhood. My answer is NO.

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