Parkland wants to ensure that the proposed 24 new classrooms at Riverglades Elementary School are built as per schedule so that there is enough capacity to meet demand.
City officials directed staff to write to the School Board, stating the city’s willingness to construct the classrooms on its own and hand them over to the School Board.
District 4 School Board member Abby Freedman, however, isn’t sure the city will be able to build the classrooms as per the School Board’s standards.
The city’s letter comes in the wake of the school board’s failure to honor its promise that it would build seven modular classrooms at two of the elementary schools in the city before the start of the current school year. According to the revised agreement, the School Board will build six modulars before July 2016. The original discussion was about building eight classrooms, four at Heron Heights and four at Park Trails elementary schools.
It was Commissioner Christine Hunschofsky who suggested that the city write to the School Board. “It is up to the School Board to see if this is an option,” she said. “We want to make sure we have the capacity when we have the students. Our goal is to help speed up the process. If there is anything that we can do to facilitate that, we are willing to do it.”
As per the agreement between the two parties, the city will provide about $8 million to the School Board for the construction of the 24 classrooms. The project is expected to be completed by the 2018-2019 school year, with the option of building 12 classrooms by the 2017-2018 school year, and 12 the next. Constructing the classrooms based on a pre-existing design will speed up the process by more than a year, according to the School Board staff.
Both the city and the school district are in favor of finishing the project earlier, in one go. The city is expected to get the money required for the project from developers in February 2016, but city officials are willing to explore the option of getting the money earlier and handing it over to the School Board if that would expedite the process.
“Doing all 24 as a single project will reduce the costs,” said Superintendent Robert Runcie, who recently discussed the issue with Parkland city officials. “Splitting it into two makes it a lot more complex.”
The standards adhered to by the School Board for the construction of buildings is different from that of the city, said Freedman. “The city will have to build it according to our standards. It’s a much higher standard than they are used to.”
The School Board staff is working diligently to ensure that the classrooms are built as scheduled, Freedman said. “Nobody would have foreseen that the construction of the modular classrooms would be delayed. I hope that there won’t be any delay in the construction of the classrooms, but nobody has a crystal ball.”
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