Are you planning on Buying a Home in Davenport FL?  Here is some exciting news!

Polk County school board members got their first look at plans for a new high school in Davenport, which will be located on 60 acres next to the Davenport School of the Arts.

BARTOW — Polk County School Board members got their first look this week at plans for a new high school in Davenport, which will be located on 60 acres next to the Davenport School of the Arts and is scheduled to open in August 2021.

District Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations Angela Usher said she and her team visited high schools in the state that meet the prototype of their needs, saying Weeki Wachee High School in Hernando County was closest to what they would like. They also met with the stakeholders in various district departments, including teaching and learning, design, internet technology systems, learning support, fine arts, and school nutrition, to help come up with a site plan.

“We are hoping we can start phase I in August — that’s mainly site work,” Usher said. “We are hoping we can go upright in December of this year, with a completion date of June 2021.”

They originally designed for a capacity of 1,800 students, but revamped those plans to 2,500 after meeting with and hearing from county and city officials in East Polk and seeing how many subdivisions were approved to be built in the next few years. According to U.S. Census records, East Polk County is one of the fastest growing areas in Central Florida.

The School Board has already approved $6 million for architectural plans and site work. Another $80 million will have to be approved for construction. Board members Tuesday voted to put in place the mechanism to be able to issue a bond for the project, if needed.

School Board Chairman Lynn Wilson, a certified public accountant, was assured by District Chief Financial Officer Mike Perrone that the project would be funded via the half-cent sales tax that voters approved in November to extend and impact fees paid by developers. Perrone said a bond would be issued only as a last resort. Bonds are usually fixed-rate loans, often made to government entities for building and infrastructure needs, and are paid back over a set period of time, typically about 20 years. The interest paid on them is lower than regular loans.

“I heard a lot when I was campaigning about bonding and stay away from that,” said board member Kay Fields.

Several board members were concerned that the school would not be big enough, citing the fact that Citrus Ridge Academy opened with portables in 2016.

“If you could open a new school in Polk County without portables, I will buy you dinner,” said board member Sarah Fortney. Usher joked after the meeting that she is already picking out the restaurant.

Fortney also wanted to know whether the district would be reaching out to teachers to get input from them on what they would like to see in classrooms.

“I know that everything sounds real good on paper until you get a teacher in there and it doesn’t function,” said Fortney, noting the lab tables at Stambaugh Middle School, where she last taught until being elected, didn’t move.

“We will make sure we incorporate those suggestions,” Usher assured her.

In addition to 95 regular classrooms, the building is currently designed to have a gym and performing arts center, along with academies for:

‒ Visual and performing arts.

‒ Digital media and video/cinema production.

‒ Hospitality and hotel management, including culinary arts.

‒ Landscape operations and horticulture.

Board member Billy Townsend asked whether the new school would be East Polk’s answer to Harrison School of the Arts in Lakeland.

“I wouldn’t put those two in competition,” Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said, but added that “it’s actually to give an opportunity to that side of the county so when they leave Davenport (School of the Arts), they have that.”

Courtesy of Kimberly C Moore
The Ledger

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