How would you remodel and renovate ?
That's what Sarasota County School District officials want to know and the school system is hosting two meetings where the community will be hands on with designing the school.
The school's renovation project is slated to begin in late 2012 and to be completed in about two years. The campus once included Sarasota Junior High School until that school was moved to Ashton Road. School officials say the campus is too spread out and has more classrooms than what it needs — including two cafeterias and two gyms from the 1950s that cost too much to maintain.
Security and out-of-date instructional spaces are other concerns that the renovated campus must have too, according to the school system.
The meetings will give community members an opportunity to express their thoughts on "providing a safe and secure 21st century learning environment, reducing operational costs and respecting the architecture of Paul Rudolph’s 1958-60 classroom addition," according to the school system.
The meetings are scheduled for 5:30-8:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, June 6 and 7, in the Conference Center at the , 4748 Beneva Road in Sarasota.
These meetings are called, in architectural terms, a “design charrette” as a whole.
The first meeting will be an open forum for parents, school district staff, business leaders, neighbors and other community members to examine the issues involved; to learn what needs to be done to update the campus; to look at some proposed site plans and to express their expectations and concerns.
The second meeting will be a working session at which participants will be divided into several teams. Each team will include representatives of the various stakeholder groups involved in the process. The teams will be asked to evaluate four site plans already proposed and any others that may develop from the information presented at the first meeting.
The teams will report out their conclusions and suggestions. The larger group will rank the plans in order of preference and attempt to reach consensus on a plan that incorporates the various interests represented. The goal will be to propose a plan that all concerned parties can accept.
Each move and piece is being highly debated in the community, mainly because they don't want to see a botched job like one at Riverview High School, The Herald-Tribune reported at a March Sarasota Architectural Foundation panel:
"No one wants to repeat the Riverview High debacle that played out, painfully, just four years ago. The architectural community, working without the much-needed services of a public relations firm, fumbled the effort to save the original Riverview High, a Rudolph-designed icon. They proposed the adaptive reuse of the building and chose an architect who turned off many locals with her "New York attitude," as one architectural foundation member said.
The result was that the building was torn down anyway. The SAF is determined to get it right this time. And with Snyder leading the way, they are off to a much better start."
Sarasota County Schools Chief Operating Officer Scott Lempe said every effort will be made to ensure that everyone who is interested participates in the process.
“My goal is to make sure that everyone that wants to be heard has a chance to be heard,” Lempe said.
Some criteria for the working session might be set, Lempe said, in order to balance the representation from the stakeholder groups, everyone who has a suggestion or concern to share at the information session will be given an opportunity to speak.
(For more information about the Sarasota High renovation project view the PDF to the right of this story underneath the photos.)