As we look forward to the holiday season, I think you’ll agree we have extra cause for celebration this year!
With the passing of the Half-Cent for Schools, we can all look forward to creating higher-quality learning environments for all our students.
As we said throughout the campaign, our #1 priority will be the revitalization of our existing schools, which are old, outdated, and in many cases overcrowded. Although we won’t begin receiving funding from the Half-Cent until March, the work that it will fund is already underway.
Even before Election Day our facilities staff took architects on a tour of Metcalfe Elementary, Idylwild Elementary and Howard Bishop Middle, three of our highest-needs schools. Right before the break the School Board will be voting to give our staff the go-ahead to negotiate with the top-ranked firms so that they can begin the work of designing those projects. At that same meeting the Board will also approve the architects for the new Elementary School I in southwest Alachua County. Our goal is to have the Metcalfe, Idywild and Elementary I projects completed in 2021 and Howard Bishop finished in 2022.
Our facilities staff is currently working with a company that specializes in infrastructure to prioritize all of the other projects on our comprehensive facilities list, a process that should be finished in March or April. In the meantime, we are moving ahead with some of the most critical projects on the list.
Over the next couple of months we’ll be building a website that will allow the public to track the progress of all our projects. We’ll let you know when that’s online.
Of course, none of this would be happening without the support of some very dedicated, hardworking and passionate people in this community who spent more than a year explaining to local citizens why the Half-Cent for Schools was needed. The ACCPTA was front and center in this effort.
Your leadership team gave up countless hours of their free time to organize tours, table at community events, speak at meetings and forums, create campaign materials, call voters, wave signs, and do all the other things that needed to be done to communicate with parents and other voters about the Half-Cent. They gave it their all to ensure that all children, not just their own, would have a brighter future.
On behalf of our students, families, our School Board and staff, I want to thank the ACCPTA and all our local PTA units and members for everything you have done this year to support our schools. Through big initiatives like the Half-Cent and in many, many other ways, you are making a positive difference in the lives of children, and that is certainly something to celebrate.
Have a safe, restful and happy holiday season!
Karen Clarke, Superintendent
Alachua County Public Schools