Two community meetings have been set for early June to allow members of the public to provide comments about the rebuilding of Sarasota High School, the Sarasota County School District has announced.
The meetings are scheduled from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 7, in the Conference Center at the Sarasota County Technical Institute, 4748 Beneva Road in Sarasota. The meetings will comprise what is known in architectural terms as a “design charrette,” a district news release points out
The construction project is scheduled to begin late this year and to be completed in about two years, according to district plans.
The charrette “will give community members an opportunity to express their thoughts on providing a safe and secure 21st century learning environment, reducing operational costs and respecting the architecture of Paul Rudolph’s 1958-60 classroom addition,” the news release notes.
“The first meeting will be an open forum for parents, school district staff, business leaders, neighbors and other community members to examine the issues involved; to learn what needs to be done to update the campus; to look at some proposed site plans and to express their expectations and concerns,” the news release says.
The second meeting will be a working session, the news release says, with participants divided into several teams. “Each team will include representatives of the various stakeholder groups involved in the process,” the release says. “The teams will be asked to evaluate four site plans already proposed and any others that may develop from the information presented at the first meeting.”
Every team will report its conclusions and suggestions, with all participants working to rank the plans in order of preference. The participants then will attempt to reach consensus on a plan that incorporates the various interests represented, the news release says. “The goal will be to propose a plan that all concerned parties can accept.”
The Sarasota County School Board is set to hear the results of the charrette during its June 19 work session.
Scott Lempe, the Sarasota district’s chief operating officer, said in the news release that every effort would be made to ensure that everyone who is interested participates in the process. Although it might be necessary to set some criteria for the working session, to balance the representation from the stakeholder groups, “everyone who has a suggestion or concern to share at the information session will be given an opportunity to speak,” the release adds.
“My goal is to make sure that everyone that wants to be heard has a chance to be heard,” Lempe said in the news release.
District officials say three major issues have necessitated the rebuild at SHS:
• Years ago, the campus included Sarasota High School and Sarasota Junior High School. Eventually, SJHS was moved to Ashton Road and became Sarasota Middle School. Then, Sarasota High took over all the facilities between Tamiami Trail and Shade Avenue. Today, the campus not only is too spread out, but it also contains many more classrooms than it needs, according to district officials. It has two cafeterias and two gyms from the 1950s that are very costly to maintain, that no longer meet district standards and that should be replaced with modern facilities, the news release says.
• The Sarasota High campus is one of the toughest for the district to secure, as it has 14 major buildings spread throughout all 42 acres.
It also has at least six vehicular traffic entrances on all four sides.
• In 1993, Buildings 13 and 14 opened, providing more than 2,000 student stations in traditional classroom settings. Science, art, JROTC and numerous other classes have remained in Buildings 4, 5 and 42 and in about a dozen portables. Not only are those buildings in poor shape, district officials say, but the classroom and lab designs impede modern teaching methods.
Building 4 is the historic Paul Rudolph structure.
Since the summer of 2011, a team of school district educators, planners, architects and construction project managers have created at least a dozen site plan options that address the three major issues with the campus, the news release notes.
The Sarasota County School Board has contracted with the firm of Harvard Jolly on the design of the new high school. Harvard Jolly also is working on the rebuild of Booker High School. More information about the firm is available at its website, http://harvardjolly.com.
More information about the SHS rebuild project may be found on the Sarasota County Schools website, www.SarasotaCountySchools.net.