...Or should we plan prudently, address the issues in a different way, and save $30+ Million?
Do we really need to build a brand new, $35 Million Dollar Middle School in Escambia County right now?
Is this the best way to spend $35 Million Dollars?
We desperately need, at a minimum, two new Elementary Schools, in order to alleviate the current massive over-crowding at Helen Caro, Blue Angels, Beulah, and Pine Meadow Elementary Schools.
We need these elementary schools yesterday—and everybody knows this!
(Beulah elementary has 18 portables out back; Pine Meadow has at least 10!)
But why build a brand new middle school to fix this elementary school problem?
We could solve all of these facilities issues with an immediate WFHS site-swap with Woodham middle and the construction of two brand new K-8 facilities (one to address overcrowding at Beulah, Pine Meadow, and Ransom---and one to address lingering overcrowding at Helen Caro, Blue Angels, and Jim Bailey) --but apparently K-8s are no longer considered as viable alternatives, even though we had a West-side K-8 facility in the 5 year work plan for a decade until it was removed from the facilities work plan in 2012.
I think a K-8 out near the new Navy Federal was/is a solid idea.
So on July 11, 2013, after meeting with the top brass at NFCU-- I brought a proposal to the board to build a state of the art K-8facility in Beulah by the ever- expanding NFCU headquarters in order to address expansive growth at Beulah, Pine Meadow, and Ransom.
We could have partnered with NFCU, and potentially lured some newly transplanted employees of NFCU into buying here in Escambia County instead of moving to Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, or Baldwin County—as had been the trend for most of those incoming employees with school-aged children according to NFCU officials.
Nope, that idea was shot down—but I was told (and it is inthe minutes) that plans were in the works to get an elementary school built out there to address the overcrowding at Beulah and Pine Meadow.
Two years later ---and the new elementary school was never built. Beulah and Pine Meadow are still
Now the push is to build a new Middle School in Beulah. But Why?
If we do the obvious, logical move that has been discussed at meetings and in one-on-one meetings between me and district administrators on multiple occasions, we can free up an adequate amount of middle school capacity while simultaneously solving other district facility issues as well---- saving as much as $32.5 Million in the process!!!
Here is how:
We should, as quickly as we can, directly swap Woodham Middle School with West Florida High School—thus giving WFHS the athletic and other academic facilities that school desperately needs, while simultaneously getting a much better utilization % of the Woodham facility. (Currently, Woodham Middle has only 695 students, resulting in less than 50% occupancy/use of that facility)
Next, once Woodham Middle is re-located to the previous WFHS site, it will have room for an additional 500-600 more students in addition to the 695 Woodham middle school students that are coming over from the previous site. There is the excess middle school capacity we need for the continued growth in the Northwest Escambia County corridor (Beulah/Pine Forest/Cantonment) right there.
Brown Barge can stay where it is, and with the addition of a gymnasium and track, BBMS will have the full complement of what it needs facility-wise.
Moving BBMS does not need to happen; we can spend less than $3Million on some improvements, provide middle school capacity via the WFHS/WMS swap, and alleviate overcrowding at four district elementary schools that have been badly overcrowded for years on end by building two new elementary schools.
In addition to saving $Millions by not moving BBMS and building a new Middle School, keeping BBMS where it is keeps at least one (1) Middle school in district 3.
The current course, which I oppose, requires the district to borrow money and spend it as indicated below. I support alternatives #1 or #2-- These alternatives save the district Millions of dollars: All three are listed below:
Current District Plan Alternative Plan #1 Alternative Plan #2
New Middle School in Beulah: New K-8 in Beulah: New Elementary in Beulah:
Land cost $2Million Land cost $2Million Land cost $2Million
Construction cost $35 Million Construction cost $30 Million Construction Cost $18 Million
New Elementary in Cantonment New West-side K-8: New Westside Elementary
Land Cost $0 Land Cost-unknown Land Cost-unknown
Construction Cost Construction Cost Construction Cost
$18 Million $30 Million $18 Million
New Westside Elementary Swap WFHS/WMS Swap WFHS/WMS
Land Cost-unknown $1.5 Million $1.5 Million
Construction Costs: BBMS Facilities Upgrades BBMS Facilities Upgrades
$18 Million $2.5 Million $2.5 Million
Total at least $74.5 Million total at least $66 Million Total at least $42.0 Million