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Five Carrollwood Schools Receiving Facelifts

Five schools will undergo renovations this summer

Renovations are underway at several Carrollwood schools and just getting started for others.

In all, five schools in the Carrollwood area will see renovations this summer, with some projects continuing into the upcoming school year.  

Gaither High School is well into the biggest and costliest construction of any Carrollwood school this summer. Renovations began the second semester of the academic year and are projected to continue until August 2012.

A major portion of the construction involves replacing two-thirds of the roof (the other third was replaced about a year ago). Renovations also include completely replacing the mechanical system and the lighting, replacing some of the low voltage systems and ceilings, adding a fire sprinkler system and painting the interior, among other minor upgrades. The total cost of the project is just over $17.75 million, according to district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.

“The maintenance department determines which schools to renovate based on the life of the equipment itself,” said John Williams, the project’s coordinator. “Gaither’s mechanical system had exceeded its lifespan, and was costing a lot to maintain.”

In addition, Gaither set up 24 portable classrooms to accommodate teachers whose rooms will undergo construction. The renovations are being completed in at least five phases, and each phase will bring a new group of teachers to set up their classrooms in portables.

Erich Wieloszynski, an honors English teacher at Gaither, was one of the first to relocate because of construction.

“I had to pack up my entire classroom before Christmas break, and the day I came back for school, I had to unpack it in a portable,” he said. 

Gaither’s administrators will not be using the portables, but instead are working from Buchanan Middle School for the summer.

Williams is also the coordinator for projects at Ben Hill Middle School and Sickles High School. Ben Hill will see major renovations to its mechanical and electrical systems, a new fire sprinkler system and a replacement of the entire roof, costing a total of $4.76 million. To accommodate construction, no summer school classes will be held at Ben Hill this summer.

In a minor project, workers at Sickles will replace the school’s fire sprinkler pump, totaling around $84,000. Both projects are scheduled for completion in August and should not interfere with the regular school year.

At Forest Hills Elementary School, workers have just started one project and are in the planning stages of another. According to coordinator Alice Sutton, six buildings at the school are getting new roofing, a project that started construction in June and should be complete by September 2.

The school is also in the design stages of a second project.

“We’re providing power upgrades so that City of Tampa workers considered first responders can use a building at the school as an emergency shelter,” Sutton said. 

She said these upgrades should be finished by October 3. Sutton is the coordinator for similar projects at other schools, and funding for the construction is split among them. Emergency shelter construction will cost around $400,000 for three schools, while reroofing will cost $900,000 for four schools.

Adams Middle School will also undergo a roof replacement this summer. Coordinator Ellis Curry says the project has experienced delays because of complications in the pre-construction evaluation process, but construction should begin within a few weeks. 

Curry said roofing will be partially or entirely replaced on five buildings. Re-roofing at Adams and one other school will cost around $500,000. 

“It’s a renovation, there’s always existing conditions that might not be evident,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that we’ve figured out enough to get the thing complete at this point.”

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