The Orange County School District is gearing up to spend over $75 million to replace four dilapidated elementary schools.
Ventura Elementary is the first in the multi-year program to do away with so-called portable schools that are made out of trailers and were built from 1987 to 1995 to accommodate booming residential growth. The school is near Orlando International Airport and the project will cost $26.1 million. Construction will begin in mid-September, with subcontractor bidding underway.
Three more portable schools will be replaced. They are Meadow Woods Elementary, north of State Road 417 and east of Rhode Island Circle. This project will cost $17.6 million.
Planned for 2018 are William Frangus Elementary, north of Old Winter Garden Road and east of Good Homes Road; and Hidden Oaks Elementary, north of Lee Vista Boulevard and west of State Road 417. Construction costs for these projects are $16.9 million and $16.4 million, respectively.
The four new schools will be paid for out of a half penny sales tax that Orange County voters approved in 2002 and extended in 2014, said Lauren Roth, senior manager of facilities communications for Orange County Public Schools.
The Ventura project, at 4400 Woodgate Blvd., involves replacing the portable campus with an elementary school for 830 students. School will continue during construction and the new building is expected to be complete next August.
The new school, which will be 90,019-square-feet, is on a 10-acre parcel.
The facility will include classrooms, administration, art and music areas, a kitchen, a cafeteria and a media center.
The Orange County School Board approved the Ventura project in March.
The trailers not only look dated, they develop leaks and require frequent repairs for problems such as failed air-conditioning units, curled carpets and flooding around the doors, the Orlando Sentinel reported.