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Bids go out for new $75 million high school

Osceola County is getting a new high school, spurred by population growth and after the project was put off because of the recession.

The educational facility's 74-acre site is also planned to contain a middle school a few years out.

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Bids are out for a construction manager for the 345,000-square-foot high school and given the Orlando area's plethora of builders, "We figure we'll get 20 to 25 responses," said Clyde Wells, chief facilities officer for the School District of Osceola County.

The project does have an architect, Shenkel Schultz, which is working on designs for the three-story building.

The high school will be located on N. Boggy Creek Road adjacent to the East Lake Fish Camp entrance and near Osceola County's Austin-Tindall Regional Park, a sports complex.

"We're building it to meet growth needs," Wells said. "We are seeing a tremendous growth in high school students."

Kindergarten through eighth grade have been helped out by charter schools, Wells said.

Initial plans called for the school to be built around 2007, when the school district bought the vacant property.

But the recession hit and plans were shelved, with the district making do with portable classrooms and reconfigured space. Meanwhile, Osceola's population grew by 41,528 from April 2010 to April 2014, or by 15 percent, according to US Census data.

Now, the $75 million facility is back on track, with expectations to have 3,000 students. The school is being paid for by impact fees assessed on development.

Construction is expected to begin in July of next year and be complete two years later so it can open in August of 2018.

The school could very well prepare students for careers in some of Orlando's hottest areas. While traditional courses will be taught, there will also be an emphasis on the so called STEM areas--science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Wells cited the Medical Village in Lake Nona and the Florida Advanced Manufacturing and Research Center that is coming to Osceola as providing the types of jobs that are in sync with a STEM curriculum. The research center will be located off Highway 192, between Kissimmee and St. Cloud.

The middle school, which does not have a construction schedule, would accommodate about 1,500 people in 200,000-square-feet of space and cost about $35 million, Wells said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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