tampabay.com

Top two on school repair list total $28M

That's the low end of estimates that the board received for the Crystal River schools.

By EDDY RAMIREZ
Published January 10, 2007


INVERNESS - Renovating two schools in Crystal River would cost almost $28-million, but the final price tag could be three times as much if the School Board decides to demolish and rebuild one or both schools.

A consulting firm issued a list of recommendations Tuesday that include making immediate repairs to Crystal River High and Crystal River Primary. The two schools fared the worst in the firm's recent study evaluating the condition of Citrus schools.

Dodds Cromwell, a consultant with MGT of America, told the board that both schools require major repairs in order to support education programs and meet student needs. Several other schools and facilities made the list of campuses that could benefit from a facelift, but their needs are not as pressing.

The board paid $124,000 to hire the consultant.

School Board members have known for some time that the high school and elementary school in Crystal River must undergo major renovations. On Tuesday, they learned how much those repairs would cost.

Renovating Crystal River High will cost $19-million, as opposed to $66-million to replace it.

Sprucing up Crystal River Primary will cost $8.8-million, as opposed to $27-million to replace it.

The board will now hire an architect to determine the best course of action: whether to remodel or replace the two schools.

Whatever recommendation the architect makes, the board doesn't know that it will be able to foot the final bill.

"The reality is, we have come to the end of pay as you go," board Chairman Bill Murray said.

"We now have to find additional revenue sources to continue to replace or refurbish our older buildings."

Board member Pat Deutschman suggested several ways the district could raise more funds, including a sales tax or borrowing money. She asked for a meeting with county government officials to discuss those possibilities.

"Until we come up with a solution, we really can't act on those recommendations," Deutschman said. "We don't have the resources to do it."

The School Board also voted unanimously to change the way it redraws school boundaries.

The old process was criticized as inefficient.

Under the new procedures, the district will no longer have committees of principals, district administrators and community members making changes to attendance zones.

Instead, the district will use a software program to speed up the process.