As local students begin their summer break, more than 175 renovation projects are scheduled to take place throughout 10 district elementary and middle schools.
The renovations are a result of the one-cent sales surtax referendum approved by voters in 2016, which is allowing the district to fund more than $70 million in projects.
Although all of the projects will begin this month, only some of the larger — and more needed — projects will be completed by the end of the summer. Published schedules show a good portion of the projects beginning this summer will be finished later throughout the 2018-19 school year, as they are projects that will not require a school to be shut down, such as improving lighting, plumbing or irrigation.
School records indicate seven elementary schools, including Cypress Trails Elementary School in Royal Palm Beach and New Horizons Elementary School in Wellington, and three middle schools, including Wellington Landings Middle School, will be shut down throughout the summer as they undergo projects for renovations and repairs of buildings, new construction, technological improvements or implementing security measures.
Many of the smaller projects can also be expected to take place during winter or spring breaks in the 2018-19 school year.
At Cypress Trails, two of the larger improvements to the school expected to be completed by the end of this summer are renovating all necessary windows, roofs and doors, and securing the school to have only a single point of entry.
Some of the projects that have begun this summer and will be completed throughout the 2018-19 school year are fencing the perimeter; replacing fire alarms and smoke detectors; upgrading classroom furniture, lighting and technology; improving plumbing systems; and enhancing playground equipment and irrigation.
The improvements necessary at Cypress Trails total more than $8 million.
The larger priorities for this summer at New Horizons are to upgrade fencing surrounding the school, replace older generators and renovate the school’s exterior play courts.
Projects to be finished after summer during the 2018-19 school year are similar to those in Cypress Trails — improving lighting, roofing, plumbing and irrigation, and also include hardening the school with a single point of entry.
The New Horizons renovations will total $7.4 million.
Many of the renovations will begin this summer at Wellington Landings and will finish during the 2018-19 school year.
There are many improvements needed at the local middle school. Wellington Landings is listed by district reports to need new or improved exterior doors, windows, roofing, fencing, classroom furniture, lockers, gym flooring, ceilings, interior and exterior lighting, walkways and plumbing. The school, like the others, also needs an established single point of entry.
Over the summer, the renovations at Wellington Landings will be centered mostly on improving its fire safety measures. The total cost of the renovations and replacements needed at Wellington Landings is more than $14.5 million.
In the aftermath of the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, $30 million of the total $70 million going into renovations at the 10 elementary and middle schools are being put forth in a single year’s budget to harden the schools and make them safer. As a result of the available funding, fencing, security technology, single points of entry and lighting are budgeted into all of the 10 schools’ renovation plans.
The large renovation projects to take place over the summer — and those to take place throughout the school year — are aimed to upgrade some of the district’s older schools in order to enhance the learning environment and safety of local students.
As Cypress Trails and New Horizons were both built in 1990, and Wellington Landings in 1987, they are among the older schools in the western communities. The renovations are aimed to provide necessary maintenance and upgrades to bring them more in line with more modern school designs.
Security enhancements at all the schools are being made through a single-year budget allocation made by the legislature this year. Other work done through the sales surtax will be funded over the course of the 10-year lifespan of that program.
Due to the renovations, summer camps or other summer programs regularly held at the 10 schools undergoing major construction have been canceled or moved over to other nearby schools.
For additional information about the renovations taking place in district schools this summer, visit www.palmbeachschools.org/referendum2016.