Students will remain on the campus at Land O’Lakes High School in Land O’Lakes, Fla., as the 1970s-era school undergoes an $18 million renovation, but that means the facility upgrades will take twice as long.
Administrators in the Pasco County district had been leaning toward moving the 1,800 students who attend Land O’Lakes to swing space at other campuses in 2017-18, but their thinking changed once the school year began.
“We received the student counts for the first day of the 2016-2017 school year, and everything changed,” Superintendent Kurt Browning said in a letter to affected families.
Higher-than-expected enrollment at some schools created space and attendance-area problems that made a temporary move of Land O’Lakes students less than ideal.
“Adjusting for all of the factors…. I now believe that the least disruptive solution is to keep students at Land O’ Lakes High School during the renovations,” Browning says.
Having students attending classes at Land O’Lakes while renovations take place raises its own set of problems. With no students on site, the project was expected to take a year. With instruction and construction occurring simultaneously, the work will take two years.
“Keeping [Land O’Lakes] open while these renovations are taking place will delay completion of the project by a year and reduce the scope of work to account for the added cost of extending the one-year project to two years,” Browning says.
“The school will be a construction zone and we will have to place dozens of portable classrooms on and around the campus. We won’t have practice fields and will reduce the number of parking spaces. There will be utility disruptions and construction dust.”
Land O'Lakes is one of several schools in Pasco County that were built with an open-classroom concept that has fallen out of favor with educators and architects. The schools are referred to as "Kelley schools" for their designer, Eoghan Kelley.
The superintendent assured parents that the safety of students would be a priority as the district carries out the Land O'Lake renovations.
“We will take every precaution to ensure that the construction project does not impact student safety,” Browning says. “If we all work together as a team, we can make this a positive experience.”