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School board considers constructing new Tice elementary school while preserving historic building

By Staff | Oct 5, 2011

The school district is looking at demolishing Tice Elementary School and building a new facility, however the historic portion of the campus would be retained.

The Lee County School District will consider approval of the 2008 Castaldi Report, which calls for the demolition of two of the three building on the site.

The proposal calls for the renovation of the 1927 historic building, while tearing down the 1954 kitchen and cafeteria building and a 1970 classroom pod building.

The estimated cost of construction for Tice Elementary School is approximately $10,000,000.

If approved, the new Tice Elementary School is anticipated to open during 2013-2014.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke also recommends the district provide attractor programs to bring more students to the school.

Executive Director for School Support William Moore said the delayed response to the 2008 report is due to the district not wanting to spend a lot of money on Tice while they knew there were other issues with which they had to deal.

“We have taken care of the needs that we have to do, everything else we haven’t,” he said.

The maintenance and utility costs for Tice is approximately $228,000 a year, which runs about 45 percent higher than other conventional schools in the district.

In addition, the classrooms and restrooms are approximately 20 percent smaller than current standards and the elementary school lacks amenities that are found in newer schools in the district.

Tice Elementary School also has many historical factors, which includes approximately 25,000 students who have walked the hallways during the 84 years of operation, two principals serving a combined total of 60 years, along with many families having three generations attend the school.

The proposed plan that was presented to the board Tuesday afternoon included increasing the school’s enrollment capacity from 586 to 600 students, along with constructing a new 60,000 square foot, one-story facility behind the historic building.

For the project to get under way the board must approve the Castaldi Report, which then has to be submitted to the Department of Education for approval. In addition, the board and Department of Education must approve a spot survey. The board will have to approve the hiring of an architect, engineers, construction manager and contractor for the project.

Burke said the issue for Tice Elementary School has been under enrollment since the downturn of the economy in 2008. He said a committee was formed to look at what options Tice Elementary School had in regards to the ongoing costs of operations, along with the physical condition of the building.

The committee came back with a 2-1 split in favor of recommending that Tice be closed due to economic data and operational costs.

Burke said after a series of meetings, conversations and community dialogue, a renewed commitment arose in preserving the neighborhood nature of the school.

“We feel we need to preserve Tice Elementary,” he said.

Board Members Don Armstrong, Mary Fischer and Tom Scott all showed their support for the “New Tice” plan that was presented to them Tuesday afternoon. Board Member Jeanne Dozier was not present and Jane Kuckel arrived late to the workshop.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves for not having to deal with this sooner,” Scott said. “I have been very impressed from the amount of people from the community that have expressed their interest of maintaining their school as a neighborhood school.”

He said it is important to do what physically needs to be done to support the energy of the community in this school.

Burke said he will bring back the report, so they can move forward with demolishing the buildings, along with developing programs right away for the school.