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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Work OK’d for old school

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— What was once old will soon be new again.

The Pasco County School Board has approved a nearly $21 million construction contract with Ajax Building Corp. of Oldsmar to rebuild Sanders Memorial Elementary, a 60-year-old school that was mostly demolished a few years ago.

The new Sanders is scheduled to open in August 2015 and will house a STEAM magnet program. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The contract, voted on last week by the school board, calls for the construction of an administration building with a media center; a two-story classroom building with 28 classrooms; a cafeteria and auditorium with music and art classrooms; and a covered play area with physical education storage and restrooms.

In addition, four existing single-story classroom buildings will be renovated. They house a total of 16 classrooms. An existing storage building also is being renovated.

Attendance boundaries haven’t been established, but Chris Williams, the school district’s planning director, has said the school is expected to draw students from Connerton Elementary and Oakstead Elementary, along with those from elsewhere in the district who use school choice to enroll in the STEAM program.

The school district closed Sanders at the end of the 2009-10 academic year after a study determined that the aging school was in such disrepair that it was more cost effective to tear it down and rebuild, rather than try to renovate. Some buildings on the campus, though, were salvaged.

Students who had attended Sanders, which was on School Road in Land O’ Lakes, were rezoned for Connerton Elementary, a new school that opened in 2010. Originally, the district planned to rebuild Sanders right away, but the recession had caused growth in Pasco to slow and the reconstruction project was put on hold.

Growth has started picking up again, and the reopening of Sanders can’t come too quickly for Oakstead and Connerton, according to a July 1 capital improvements plan that Williams presented to the school board.

Both schools have enrollment numbers that put them well over their capacity, with portable classrooms moved onto the campuses to help with the overflow.

This past school year, Oakstead had 1,176 students and Connerton had 984. The schools are built for 762 students each.

rblair@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1853

Twitter: @RBlairTBO

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